New Westminster – Every year in British Columbia, the Drug and Poison Information Centre receives 26,000 calls about poisoning, including almost 4,000 drug poisoning cases that require hospitalization, and approximately 500 of which are fatal. A quarter of these serious cases occur among adults aged 55 and over.
The task of taking multiple medications on time or not taking duplicate doses by mistake is an ongoing issue among this age group and a contributing factor to the high number of serious poisoning cases.
“Many adults over the age of 55, especially those with chronic health conditions, have multiple prescriptions. Each new drug, vitamin or over-the-counter product that’s added to the mix increases the risk of adverse side effects and medication interactions,” says Nabeel Abrahani a Pharmacist at London Drugs.
A recent poll conducted by Insights West on behalf of London Drugs found that one third (34%) of Canadians aged 55 or older are not taking their prescription medications properly. This includes one in five who admit that they make adjustments to prescription dosage, size, or frequency without consulting a healthcare professional. The same number (18%) say that they have trouble remembering when or if they have taken a medication.
“If you are unclear about how to take your prescription or over-the-counter medications or how supplements might interact with each other, don’t assume everything will be okay – ask your pharmacist or doctor,” says Dr. Ian Pike, spokesperson for Preventable. “Aging is a fact of life, but poisoning from medication use is not. Having an awareness of your medications and how certain drugs can interact with each other can prevent poisoning, even death.”
This April, in an effort to reduce British Columbians’ risk of experiencing dangerous drug interactions, Preventable, London Drugs and Fraser Health Hospital Foundations are partnering to raise awareness among Seniors about the importance of knowing and tracking all their medications to reduce preventable overdoses and dangerous side effects when some medications are mixed – including over-the-counter drugs.
As part of the campaign, patients can download or pick up a free card at participating London Drugs locations, which they can fill in with their list of current medications and anything else they are taking including vitamins, minerals and herbal products, and have it reviewed by a pharmacist.