From pain to depression to infection, there seems to be a pill for just about everything; it's no surprise then that prescription use is at an all time high in the U.S. A recent study, however, revealed that inappropriate medications are often prescribed to the elderly, putting them at risk for many adverse side effects.
Investigators from Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, NC, examined over 700,000 outpatient prescription claims from a national pharmaceutical benefit manager in subjects 65-years or older. The study found that 21 percent of the subjects had filled a prescription for one or more drugs that had been named on the Beers revised list of drugs to be avoided in elderly populations. More than 15 percent filled prescriptions for two drugs on the list, and four percent filled three or more within the same year.
Alarmingly, 51 percent of the prescriptions filled were known to have possible severe side-effects. Before your next trip to the drug store, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of your prescriptions, and ask about those with fewer side effects to avoid suffering potentially severe consequences. Or better yet, ask about nonprescription alternatives to treatment.
Curtis LH, Ostbye T, Sendersky V, et.al. Inappropriate prescribing for elderly Americans in a large outpatient population. Archives of Internal Medicine 2004 (164):1621-25.