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Many Patients Don't Report Use of OTC Pain Drugs
Date:10/15/2007

Aspirin, ibuprofen and similar medicines pose big stomach risks, study notes

MONDAY, Oct. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Large numbers of patients don't tell their doctors that they take common over-the-counter painkillers, such as aspirin and ibuprofen, a potentially dangerous omission, a new study has found.

"With nearly one out of five patients underreporting their medicine intake, it is no wonder that adverse events are increasing yearly," said study lead author Dr. Raj T. Majithia, an internist at Eastern Virginia Medical School. "It is important that patients report all medications that they take."

An estimated 30 million Americans take so-called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) each day, and many have no adverse effects. But in people with gastrointestinal problems, the painkillers can worsen indigestion, upset stomachs and peptic ulcer disease. With prolonged use, they can also cause bleeding or liver problems.

The problem can be particularly worrisome for people with arthritic conditions. More than 14 million such patients consume NSAIDs regularly. Up to 60 percent will have gastrointestinal side effects related to these drugs, and more than 10 percent will stop taking recommended medications because of troublesome gastrointestinal symptoms, the researchers said.

In the new study, Majithia and a colleague gave questionnaires to 100 patients at a private gastrointestinal practice. The surveys asked about the medications the patients were taking. Then the patients were asked whether they took any of 30 drugs that contain the painkillers in question.

Eighteen percent of the patients reported taking a painkiller that they hadn't mentioned to their nurse. Of those, eight percent said they took the drugs once a day, 15 percent once a week and the rest within the past month.

Of those who didn't report their medication use, 14 percent said they were never asked about it, and 2
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