Navigation Links
Too Many Meds May Be More Problem Than Cure
Date:11/3/2011

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, Nov. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Barely a week goes by, it seems, without some company announcing a new pill designed to help you live a longer, healthier life.

Medication can, indeed, do a lot toward curing, preventing or easing many ills. But taking a fistful of pills each day creates its own set of medical risks, prompting concern among a growing number of physicians and pharmacists that people are simply taking too many medications for their own good.

"As you keep increasing the amount of prescriptions, that increases the chance of having a drug interaction or major side effect," said Sophia De Monte, a pharmacist in Nesconset, N.Y., and a spokeswoman for the American Pharmacists Association. "It's exponential. The more you add on, the more chance you'll have something bad happen."

It's a concept called polypharmacy, the use of more medications than someone actually needs. And that means not just prescription drugs but also over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements.

The average American is prescribed medication about 13 times a year, according to a report last year by the Kaiser Family Foundation. But the likelihood of polypharmacy increases as people age. Studies have found that seniors make up 13 percent of the population but account for 30 percent of all drug prescriptions. When elderly patients transfer from hospitals to nursing homes for rehabilitation, it is common for caregivers to have to keep track of nine or more prescribed medications for each person, according to a long-term care report.

The more medications people take, the more likely it is that they'll experience a problem in three key areas, said De Monte and Norman P. Tomaka, a pharmacist in Melbourne, Fla., including:

  • Drug interactions. Drugs can work against each other in strange ways, and the more medications added to a daily regimen, the greater the risk for an interaction that could affect the person's health.
  • Drug compliance. Trying to keep track of multiple medications can become too much of a burden, causing people to give up trying to comply with the directions for medication use. "We've found that compliance drops 40 percent when you add a second drug to a patient's regimen, even if they are both once a day," Tomaka said. A lack of compliance to prescription directions can create a serious health risk. "For example, if you use blood pressure medication sporadically, you may set your blood pressure up to become drug resistant," he said. Sporadic use of antibiotics can cause infectious bacteria to develop immunity to medications.
  • Side effects. Every medication a person takes comes with its own risk for side effects. Multiple prescriptions and remedies mean a multiplied risk. And once side effects occur, it can be more difficult to track down the problem. "Sometimes those drugs can mask each others' symptoms," Tomaka said. "If you get an adverse reaction, you don't know which one caused it. Then you have a quandary."

But though the trend has been toward more prescriptions, steps are being taken to safeguard patients' health.

Doctors and pharmacists are working together to create systems by which patients' prescription lists are reviewed, with an eye toward minimizing the medications they take, De Monte said.

"The whole goal is to try to fine-tune it," she said, "working with the patient to get the best medication with the best effects at the minimal amount."

Researchers also are working on ways to combine drugs that work well together into a single dose, reducing the number of pills people have to keep track of as well as the risk for drug interactions, Tomaka said.

"The history of HIV treatment is a good lesson in this," he said. "In the 1990s, most HIV patients took anywhere from six to 24 medication tablets. Sometimes there would be as many as 65. Today, it's thoroughly realistic that a patient will only have to take two pills a day."

In the meantime, De Monte and Tomaka suggested a few steps people can take to make sure the multiple medications they are on don't cause more problems than they cure:

  • Take each medication with water. If you add an acidic beverage, like fruit juice or soda, to the mix, it's just one more thing for your medication to interact with.
  • Read all the information provided about any medication, either prescription or over-the-counter, looking for potential problems that might crop up for you.
  • Review your medication list with your doctor and pharmacist.
  • Report symptoms that occur once you begin taking a new medication.

In the end, dealing with polypharmacy entails some work on the part of patients because only they know about their specific health condition and how each medication makes them feel.

"Medications are tools," Tomaka said. "We have to get away from looking at drugs as anything other than a tool used to help repair a patient's body. The key is working with your physician on your specific condition and realizing that one size does not fit all."

More information

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices has more on the safe use of medications.

SOURCES: Sophia De Monte, R.Ph., Nesconset, N.Y.; Norman P. Tomaka, B.Pharm., Melbourne, Fla.; Prescription Drug Trends, Kaiser Family Foundation, May 2010; June 2009, Annals of Long-Term Care


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. ICU Patients at Risk for Rare Heart Rhythm Problem
2. America's Hidden Pandemic: 100 Million Suffer From Sleep Problems
3. Solutions for Sleep Problems: Harvard's Improving Sleep Special Health Report and New Sleep Apnea Video
4. Sleep problems and sleepiness increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents in adolescents
5. The Communication Problem Solver Snags Spot on “Best Books of Year” List
6. New Multivitamins Target Concern Over China's Quality Problems
7. Bromley Brook Boarding School for Girls Creates Focus Cards to Help Students Regulate Emotions, Solve Problems
8. Black Women at Higher Risk of Birth-Related Heart Problem
9. New developments in nanotechnology tackle the 2 biggest problems associated with chemotherapy
10. RSA Innovator NetClarity Solves Networking Problems Caused by HP and Cisco Divorce
11. Pennsylvania to Observe Problem Gambling Awareness Week; Remind Residents of Available Counseling and Treatment Services
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Too Many Meds May Be More Problem Than Cure
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... 26, 2016 , ... On June 10-11, 2016, A Forever Recovery, a holistic ... World’s Longest Breakfast Table in Battle Creek, MI, where the rehabilitation facility is located. ... some of the world’s leading providers of cereal and other breakfast foods. Its residents ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... health policy issues and applications at AcademyHealth’s Annual Research Meeting June 26-28, 2016, ... work on several important health care topics including advance care planning, healthcare costs ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... As a lifelong Southern Californian, ... and his M.D from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He trained ... Angeles to complete his fellowship in hematology/oncology at the UCLA-Olive View-Cedars Sinai program where ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Those who have experienced traumatic events may ... to unhealthy avenues, such as drug or alcohol abuse, as a coping mechanism. To ... for healthy coping following a traumatic event. , Trauma sufferers tend to feel a ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Dr. Amanda Cheng, an ... Dr. Cheng has extensive experience with all areas of orthodontics, including robotic Suresmile ... orthodontics. , Micro-osteoperforation is a revolutionary adjunct to orthodontic treatment. It can ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... Research and Markets has ... 2015-2025: Applications, Technologies, Forecasts" report to their ... Electronics, Smart Skin, Structural Health Monitoring, Composite Smart ... electronics involves electronic and/or electrical components and circuits ... structures such as vehicle bodies or conformally placed ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... 24, 2016 Research and Markets has ... Companion Diagnostic Tests" report to their offering. ... Diagnostics The World Market for Companion Diagnostics ... diagnostics. Market analysis in the report includes the following: ... Vitro Diagnostic Kits) by Region (N. America, EU, ROW), 2015-2020 ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016  Arkis BioSciences, a ... invasive and more durable cerebrospinal fluid treatments, today ... The Series-A funding is led by Innova Memphis, ... and other private investors.  Arkis, new financing will ... and the market release of its in-licensed Endexo® ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: