“Drug Dangers and Interactions in Elderly Patients”

Just because a drug is called “a medicine” does not guarantee that it cannot seriously injure or kill you. Recent studies have found that drugs annually hospitalize up to 2.7 million Americans with serious adverse drug reactions and, of these, there are 128,000 deaths. A 2013, article entitled, “Institutional Corruption of Pharmaceuticals and the Myth of Safe and Effective Drugs” was published in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (JLME) and reported that patients have suffered from a largely hidden epidemic of side effects from drugs that usually have few offsetting benefits. This is especially true in elderly patients. Today, pills are pushed with reckless abandon and campaigns of persuasion. Prescribing medications, recognizing and managing medication side effects and drug interactions, and avoiding multiple drugs (polypharmacy) are all essential skills in the care of older adults in primary care. All too frequently, a medication is prescribed to treat a side effect of another medication. The Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication (PIM) Use in Older Adults is an essential reference for physicians prescribing to older adults. Statins (cholesterol lowering drugs) are the most commonly prescribed drug in elderly adults, with as many as half of community-dwelling elderly taking these agents.

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