This blog post originally appeared on Zaggocare.org Medications save lives and make life more bearable for millions of people. No doubt about it. But medications can also cause harm. Logically, the more medications a patient takes, the higher the risk of side effects and dangerous interactions between medications. Did you know many patients take inappropriate or unnecessary medications? Unfortunately, over-prescribing is a widespread, dangerous problem in the US, especially for older patients (categorized as those 65+ years old). Why do doctors prescribe too many medications? What harm does it cause? And what can patients do? An extensive report by the Lown Institute examines the impact of over-prescribing in older patients. Their report states that the US “is in the grips of an unseen epidemic of harm

from the excessive prescribing of medications.” This important, often overlooked issue may impact your health, or the health of a loved one.   What are the dangers associated with medications? Although medications are designed to help patients, they can also cause health issues. All medications have side effects. Some are potentially serious, while others are minor. But it’s important to understand that all medications carry some degree of risk. There are two major issues of concern – side effects and adverse drug reactions. Adverse drug reactions (ADR) involve an unexpected or dangerous reaction to a medication. You can develop an ADR after one dose of medication, from prolonged use of a drug, or from a negative interaction between 2 or more medications. The more…

Past blogs have discussed various ways to save on medication costs - pharmaceutical patient assistance programs, drug discount coupons, drug discount card, etc. Let me tell you about another way you may be able to cut your medication costs. At NeedyMeds we receive calls from people who can't afford their medications. Most are taking just a few drugs, but a significant number are taking 10 or more drugs - sometimes 20 or more drugs. According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report 82% of American adults take at least one medication and 29% take five or more medications. Why are so many people taking so many medicines? In some cases the person has multiple diseases, all requiring their own medications.

But sometimes not all the medicines are no longer needed. Here are a few reasons why this may occur: Step Therapy This is an approach used to treat many diseases. Let's say your doctor discovers you have high blood pressure - hypertension. Your doctor would take a stepped approach to treatment. First, she would address lifestyle issues such as weight control, tobacco use, exercise, etc. If those steps didn't work, next she would add medicine. There are many different drugs used to treat hypertension. She would most likely start with a diuretic because these drugs are safe, inexpensive and have been used for decades. If the dose is maxed out and optimal control is not obtained, she may then add a drug from a different class. She…