OTC plus prescription meds: trouble for seniors

Seniors should bring all of their medications--even over-the-counter remedies--to every physician at every visit, according to a new study. Publication of the findings from a new nationwide survey today suggests that seniors are at risk for serious complications when they combine prescription medications with seemingly innocuous OTC meds. Potential problems include muscle weakness and excessive bleeding. About 4 percent of seniors mix OTC and prescription medications, without knowing the risk of doing so.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published findings by researchers who found that about 2.2 million Americans between the ages of 57 and 85 are at risk for major drug interactions--about one out of every 25 individuals in this age range. 

Even more concerning is that about 15 million people in the aforementioned group take a minimum or five drugs or supplements simultaneously. When physicians ask them what medications they are taking, patients often only disclose prescription medications, perhaps under the assumption that OTC medicines and supplements do not pose the same risks as prescription medications do.

Almost 30 percent of respondents used more than five prescription medications, and over half used five or more prescription medications, over-the-counter medications or supplements, and use increased with age. 

- read the story at USA Today
- see more at the Washington Post
- find the Wall Street Journal blog entry