Study: Seniors at risk due to OTC drugs, supplements

When physicians prescribe a drug, they usually ask the patient what drugs they're already taking. However, they don't always end up finding out what kind of over-the-counter drugs or supplements elderly patients are taking. This leads to one in 25 older adults suffering an adverse reaction due to an inappropriate combination of prescription meds, OTC drugs and/or supplements, researchers have found.

Today, older people take more medications than in the past, with almost one-third taking more than five prescription drugs, and more than half using five or more prescription meds, OTC drugs and dietary supplements, concluded research just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In another key finding, the study concluded that almost half of the potential drug-drug interactions included the use of anticoagulants like warfarin, along with antiplatelet drugs like aspirin. It also concluded that more than half of the potential adverse reactions involved the use of two over-the-counter substances, such as ginkgo biloba and aspirin.

To conduct the study, researchers analyzed a nationally-representative sample of more than 3,000 adults, ages 57 to 85, surveyed between June 2005 and March 2006.

To learn more about the study:
- read this item from The New York Times

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