Check out the news article on CNN.com, “Is Grandma drugged up?“. This is important information, especially for older health care consumers.
The article states that 38 million older Americans suffer from drug complications every year, 180,000 of which are life-threatening.
It adds that people over 65 have a “risk for drug errors” that is seven times greater than those under 65. I’m not sure if their wording is correct here. This ratio might actually reflect the risk of drug complications, not errors. Either way, it is an important caution for older people on multiple medications, (see my post from April 25).
New drugs are rarely tested on older people before FDA approval. The study populations are carefully selected to minimize risk. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; but after approval, the companies will often take drugs tested in healthy 40 and 50 year-olds, and promote them for people in their 70s and 80s. It is NOT a valid assumption that these pills will have the same efficacy and safety in older people.
I’m not a big fan of CNN-TV, which seems to use a lot of fearmongering and histrionics to peddle its news. However, this article is a good read. It has lists of potentially harmful drugs and drug interactions, instructions for doing a “brown bag review” of your pills, and suggestions for discussing these concerns with your doctor. Check it out!