Health risk: Every fourth adult takes several medications regularly
Many senior citizens in particular depend on the daily intake of medication. The effects of side effects are often bad enough anyway. But the risk becomes even greater if the risk of interactions is increased by taking several pills at the same time. Experts call for more security.
Health risks from taking multiple medications at the same time
Pain relievers, cholesterol or blood pressure lowerers, blood thinners: Many seniors in particular often swallow several pills at the same time. And many younger people take more than two different medications every day. For years, experts have been pointing to health risks from poly-medication: If several medications are taken at the same time, the risk of side effects and side effects increases considerably. Pharmacists are now warning of the possible health consequences and suggesting a solution.
Every second person over the age of 70 swallows three or more pills
According to a report by the dpa news agency, around one in four (23 percent) in a survey of around 13,000 adult German citizens stated that they regularly took three or more medications. And in the group of seniors aged 70 and over, it is even every second. The representative Forsa survey was created on behalf of the Federal Association of German Pharmacists' Associations (ABDA). The ABDA President, Friedemann Schmidt, presented the results in the run-up to the German Pharmacists' Day, which will begin in Düsseldorf on Thursday.
Avoidable and harmful cases
Of the patients who take three or more drugs at the same time, about half (54 percent) are being treated by more than one doctor. Around one in three of the patients (29 percent) with three or more drugs takes both prescribed and additional over-the-counter medications. According to Schmidt, this so-called polymedication is necessary for many patients - especially in the elderly - due to several illnesses, but there are often avoidable and health-damaging cases.
More deaths from side effects than from road traffic
According to the ABDA, there is no uniform definition for polymedication. One usually starts from three or more medications, or five or more, which are swallowed simultaneously and permanently. Nine percent of the respondents in the Forsa survey stated that they took five or more drugs. In Germany, more people die from the side effects of medication than from road traffic. The ABDA had already pointed this out at the beginning of the year and in this connection called for better protection of patients from medication errors. Last year there were around 3,400 fatalities in this country.
Medication plan to reduce risks
It is said that a common reason is not only that several doctors prescribe at the same time, but that medication is often continued, even if the therapy has already proven unsuccessful. Or that the patient continues to swallow remedies even though the therapy goal has already been reached. Schmidt called for a medication plan for each patient to reduce the risks. This must contain the entire list of medicines - constantly updated and coordinated by doctors and pharmacies. However, there is still too little coordination at the moment: "Nine out of ten medication lists that are issued by the doctor alone do not match what the patient is actually taking," says Schmidt. (ad)