Dangerous Drugs That Put Seniors At Risk


Many thanks to Lin­da Grayling of the con­sumer watch­dog web­site Drug­watch for this impor­tant guest arti­cle.

Dangerous Drugs that Put Seniors at Risk


More than 40 per­cent of peo­ple old­er than 65 take five or more med­ica­tions, and some take dozens of pills every day.

That’s a lot of drugs, and it’s no sur­prise that this results in con­fu­sion for many seniors, who often run into seri­ous prob­lems when they take too much of a pre­scrip­tion or mix med­i­cines that inter­act bad­ly.

Even worse, some drugs are dan­ger­ous all by them­selves. Seniors should be aware of drugs with seri­ous side effects, espe­cial­ly drugs that are tar­get­ed at dis­eases more com­mon in old­er pop­u­la­tions.

Dia­betes Med­ica­tions

Dia­betes, espe­cial­ly type 2 dia­betes, is a huge prob­lem in the Unit­ed States. It affects more than 23 mil­lion Amer­i­cans, many of them seniors. Those affect­ed often turn to med­ica­tion to help them con­trol their blood sug­ar lev­els and reg­u­late the dis­ease.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, some of these med­ica­tions can have seri­ous side effects. For exam­ple, Janu­via and Byet­ta, two med­i­cines used to increase insulin lev­els in the body, have been shown to increase the chance of con­tract­ing acute pan­cre­ati­tis or pan­cre­at­ic can­cer.

Pan­cre­ati­tis is a seri­ous inflam­ma­tion of the pan­creas that can cause tis­sue dam­age, infec­tion and bleed­ing. Pan­cre­ati­tis kills between 10 and 30 per­cent of those who have it. One study showed that patients on Byet­ta were 49 times more like­ly to devel­op pan­cre­ati­tis, while anoth­er study linked Janu­via to a six-fold increase in risk.

Stud­ies have also shown seri­ous prob­lems with two oth­er pop­u­lar dia­betes med­ica­tions, Actos and Avan­dia.

Avan­dia, which is part of a class of drugs almost com­plete­ly removed from mar­ket, has been the tar­get of tens of thou­sands of law­suits alleg­ing that use of the drug result­ed in life-threat­en­ing com­pli­ca­tions such as heart attacks and strokes.

Actos, anoth­er drug in the same prob­lem­at­ic class as Avan­dia, has been linked to a sig­nif­i­cant increase in the risk of blad­der can­cer.

Stay Informed

While dia­betes med­ica­tions can have seri­ous side effects, they are not the only drugs seniors should be wary of.

Drugs such as Pradaxa have been blamed for heart attack, uncon­trol­lable bleed­ing, liv­er fail­ure and even death.

Here are some tips to help seniors stay safe:

  • Take only what your doc­tor pre­scribes, and keep your doc­tors and phar­ma­cist aware of every drug and sup­ple­ment you are tak­ing.
  • Fol­low all warn­ing labels, and nev­er adjust dosages your­self.
  • Watch out for recalls and warn­ing notices from the FDA and man­u­fac­tur­ers’ web­sites.
  • If you believe you have expe­ri­enced com­pli­ca­tions as a result of one of your med­ica­tions, con­tact a med­ical pro­fes­sion­al imme­di­ate­ly. You may also want to con­sid­er your legal options.


Lin­da Grayling is a writer for Drugwatch.com, a con­sumer advo­ca­cy web­site. She stays up to speed on the lat­est med­ical news, includ­ing recalls and clin­i­cal tri­als.


Deepen Your Body of Knowledge

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About Ronald Lavine, D.C.

Dr. Lavine has more than thirty five years' experience helping patients alleviate pain and restore health using diverse, scientifically-based manual therapy and therapeutic exercise and alignment methods. His website, askdrlavine.com, provides more information about his approach. Please contact him at drlavine@yourbodyofknowledge.com or at 212-400-9663.
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