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Assemblymember Jim Wood
Chair, Assembly Health Committee
Assembly Health Committee
1020 N Street, Room 390
Sacramento, California 95814

sent via CA Legislature Position Letter Portal

RE: AB 1809 (Aguiar-Curry) – Support

Dear Chairperson Wood:

I write to you in support of AB 1809, a very important bill to protect nursing facility residents from the excessive use of psychotropic drugs.  Despite dangerous side effects, condemnation by care providers, and a decade-long national and state campaign to reduce the inappropriate use of psychotropic drugs in nursing homes, over half of California nursing home residents are being given psychotropic drugs.  The rate of psychotropic drug use in nursing homes has alarmingly increased during the pandemic, as more facilities have turned to sedating drugs to control and manage residents.  Ten years after a California Department of Public Health initiative found that 63% of surveyed facilities violated residents’ informed consent rights, informed consent violations remain routine and pervasive.

A recent New York Times story concluded that 21% of nursing home residents are given antipsychotics, a powerful and dangerous class of psychotropic drugs, typically to treat dementia even though such drugs double the risk of death for people with dementia.  The story found that not only are residents being inappropriately drugged, their diagnoses are manipulated to hide the drug use from regulators.  Inappropriate drugging is sometimes used as a substitute for adequate facility staffing but regulators are largely unmoved due to shoddy data reporting as well as resignation and indifference.

Information and choice are nursing home residents’ best protection against inappropriate psychotropic drug use and AB 1809 will better ensure residents have information and choice by:

  • Codifying and expanding existing rules that establish residents’ rights to informed consent before receiving a psychotropic drug;
  • Specifying that residents and their representatives must be informed in writing about the content of Black Box drug warnings and whether the drug’s purpose has been approved by the FDA; and
  • Providing for increased public and private enforcement of informed consent requirements.

Most importantly, AB 1809 ensures nursing home residents are given important information about drugs that are prescribed for them and a fair opportunity to consent or withhold consent.

Please vote yes on AB 1809.


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