A new study by researchers at the University of Chicago Medical Center has stated that at least 2.2 million U.S. adults take medicine in combinations that could trigger dangerous drug interactions. Some of the possible dangerous interactions include muscle breakdown, gastrointestinal bleeding, disruption in heart rhythm, and other serious problems.
Perhaps even more alarming is that at least half of these dangerous interactions involve the use of over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin or dietary supplements. According to the study, one in 25 older adults are at risk for serious drug interactions, the study has found. And for men ages 75 and 85, the risk is as high as 1 and 10.
However, the risk might be even higher because the research focused on major interactions among the 20 most common drugs and dietary supplements. “The public has an awareness that two prescription medications used together might be dangerous,” said the study author, Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau. Lindau is the assistant professor of geriatric medicines, obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Chicago Medical.
The dangerous drug interactions cited in the study were more a byproduct of individuals unknowingly mixing medications rather than the result of pharmaceutical prescription errors by medical providers.
For example, according to the December 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the most common problematic combination of non-prescription drugs was Ginkgo Biloba and aspirin. When the two are taken together the combination can increase the risk of internal bleeding. According to reports, adults ages 65 and older annually account for about 175,000 visits to the emergency room for drug complications.
Kreisman Law Offices is an Illinois law firm that has been practicing pharmaceutical error litigation and Cook County medical malpractice law for over 30 years, serving areas such as Chicago, Tinley Park, Oak Park, and Evanston.