publish date 2021-09-16 09:12:18
As people get older, chronic medical conditions, from osteoporosis to cardiovascular disease and cancer, become more common. For medical systems in many countries, prescribing is the preferred method for treating these diseases.
The World Health Organization considers “overuse of medicines” a major public health problem, leading to millions of hospitalizations globally due to adverse drug responses, and billions of dollars in unnecessary health expenditures.
Researchers and pharmacists are racing to solve the problem of drug overuse, but doing so is very difficult.
According to a report from the Lewin Research Institute, a nonprofit center, 42 percent of all seniors in the United States take five or more medications a day. Nearly 20 percent take 10 or more drugs. Over the past 20 years, drug overuse cases have tripled across the country.
It can be difficult to ask a patient to stop taking certain medications, and doctors often have to monitor the patient carefully
The pharmaceutical industry’s reliance on profits could cause doctors to prescribe more drugs to patients, according to an investigation by the ProPublica Newsroom. The Chamber reported that doctors who receive money for prescribing a particular drug prescribe this drug more than doctors who do not benefit financially.
In 2015, about half of all physicians in the United States received drug company funds totaling $2.4 billion.
Another factor that exacerbates this problem is the lack of communication between the different doctors the patient goes to, which leads to the prescription of medications without proper communication. Thus, what appears to be a new disease may in fact be a side effect of a drug.
Sometimes it is necessary to prescribe several medications at once. For example, to help a patient who’s had a heart attack not have a heart attack again, treatment can include medications that lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and stop blood cells from sticking together.
But when the risks of drugs outweigh the potential benefits, patients are exposed to significant health consequences. Every day, 750 elderly people are hospitalized with serious side effects of the drugs, including fainting, allergic reactions and internal bleeding.
With each additional medication a patient takes, the risk of an adverse reaction increases by between seven and ten percent, and they face a greater risk of severe side effects because their livers become less efficient at metabolizing and removing the drugs from the bloodstream.
This risk is compounded by the fact that interactions between certain drugs can be harmful, and that up to half of patients who take four or more drugs do not take them as prescribed by physicians, according to an analysis published in 2020 in the Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology.
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