Currently, only-oral informed consent is required in the administration of most prescription drugs to Veterans, according to the 2020 Veteran Health Administration (VHA) Handbook. For Veterans, this commonly includes prescriptions to antidepressants, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, opioids and stimulates, which all contain an FDA Black Box Warning – the highest risk warning according to FDA regulations. Suicide ideation is one of the major side effects of these medications. This means the VA is prescribing Veterans – who are already at risk of death by suicide – medications whose greatest side-effects are suicidal ideation and increased risk of death by suicide, and not providing these Veterans the proper explanation of these risks, alternative therapeutic options, or requiring signatory consent by Veteran patients.
With Veteran deaths by suicide continuing to occur at rapid rates, the Veterans Education Project is calling for the requirement of Signatory Informed Consent for all medications prescribed by the VA to Veterans that include a FDA Black Box Warning.