Drugmaker paid doctors with problem records to promote its pill
(Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken, CNN Investigates) One physician had his prescription pad taken away after he repeatedly failed tests assessing his competency.
Another was banned from treating mentally ill inmates and accused of endangering nursing home patients by prescribing excessive dosages of medications.
Nuedexta is approved by the FDA to treat treat only one a rare condition. So the manufacture hired nearly 500 doctors to promote it for non-approved uses in nursing home patients.
At least three others had criminal convictions for illegal prescribing.
Avanir Pharmaceuticals paid nearly 500 doctors to speak or consult on its drug, Nuedexta, between 2013 and 2016, according to government data.
Through a review of the top prescribers and top paid physicians in this group, CNN identified a dozen who have been disciplined by state medical boards.
These offenses included the harmful treatment of nursing home residents and “grossly negligent acts” involving the inappropriate prescribing of dangerous and addictive drugs — resulting in probation, suspension, fines and revoked licenses.
Nuedexta is approved by the FDA to treat a rare condition marked by uncontrollable laughing and crying, called pseudobulbar affect (PBA).
But in a recent investigation, CNN found repeated examples where doctors had prescribed Nuedexta to dementia patients, purportedly for PBA, when it was actually being used to control unruly behaviors.
This medication has experienced a massive jump in sales in recent years, propelled by prescriptions to nursing home residents for whom the drug may not be necessary or even safe.
After CNN’s initial report, the Los Angeles city attorney announced that it was launching a probe into Avanir, examining whether the company broke state or federal laws.
Former Avanir employees say that the company’s speaker program, where Avanir seeks out physicians and pharmacists to present about the drug to everyone from medical colleagues to nursing home employees and administrators, has been essential to its growing success.
Between 2013 and 2016, Avanir and its parent company, Otsuka, paid doctors nearly $14 million for Nuedexta-related consulting, promotional speaking and other services. See the full story at CNN.com. Featured image: 401(K) 2012, CC; Jeff Eaton, CC.
Also of interest: Trump: Drug Makers ‘Get Away With Murder’