AOK study: pill mix with risky effects

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AOK study shows dangerous drug mix in numerous patients

According to a recent study by the AOK Scientific Institute (WIdO), many patients regularly take a mix of tablets and other medicines that are at risk of significant health problems due to the drug interactions. As the "Rheinische Post" reports in its Monday edition with reference to the investigation by the AOK Scientific Institute, every sixth drug regulation harbors the risk of dangerous interactions with another drug.

According to the WIdO, patients unknowingly take a significant health risk by taking the pill mix.Olderly people with multiple illnesses - in particular nursing home residents - are at greater risk. In some cases, they would be prescribed dosages and combinations that fall within the scope of bodily harm, according to the "Rheinische Post". Three out of a thousand patients received a pill mix that could be fatal, and combinations were prescribed in 3.5 percent of cases that could have "serious health" consequences, the paper reports. Here, the experts at WIdO also see doctors as an obligation to prevent the patient from being adversely affected by the risky interactions of the prescribed medication in the future. Doctors should be better informed about which over-the-counter medications their patients may be taking to avoid unnecessary risks.

Prescribing risky drug combinations
As part of the current study, the AOK scientific institute examined the drug prescriptions from the first quarter of 2012 of the 24 million AOK insured nationwide. A total of around 65 million prescribed packages were considered in the study. In this way, the WIdO experts were able to identify a large number of risky drug combinations that are regularly prescribed for the insured. This serious health risk should now be countered in cooperation with the doctors. Because it is not uncommon for the pill mix to be the reason for hospital admission rather than contributing to the recovery of the patient.

Prescription drugs with physical offense
According to the head of the AOK Hamburg / Rhineland, Günter Waltermann, "the problem of dangerous drug combinations" can only be solved jointly by the health insurers and doctors. The AOK therefore seeks to talk to the medical professionals as soon as questionable prescriptions are found. However, there is still a need for action, particularly among residents of nursing homes. "There, some dosages and combinations are prescribed that fall under bodily harm," Waltermann told the Rheinische Post. The Bavarian Academy for Clinical Pharmacy had already carried out an examination of the drug prescriptions in July 2011. The researchers have 100 in 96 Bavarian pharmacies consecutive customer contacts were documented, it was recorded which preparations the customers are taking and which possible reactions occurred with individual active substances with other medications, nutritional supplements or foods.

Taking contraindicated medicines is particularly critical
In its investigation, the Bavarian Academy for Clinical Pharmacy came to the conclusion that every sixth pharmacy customer in Bavaria had interactions between their medications. Self-medication was involved in every eighth person affected. The most common cause of undesirable interactions are antidepressants, blood pressure medications, mineral supplements and pain relievers. “When interacting, the drugs can mutually reinforce their effects or side effects, but they can also weaken them,” explained Dr. Sonja Mayer, managing director of the Bavarian Academy for Clinical Pharmacy, the risks. The parallel intake of contraindicated active substances is particularly critical, since in such cases the interactions can be "life-threatening for the patients", warned Dr. Mayer. However, as the current study by the AOK Scientific Institute shows, little has changed in the past few years of the prescription practice, which can be quite hazardous to health. (fp)

Also read:
Interactions: tens of thousands of deaths each year
Colonoscopy deaths from propofol
As of today, patients can report side effects
Vaccinations with side effects
Side effects with antidepressants
Medicinal side effects increase with age

Photo credit: Eva-Maria Roßmann /

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