News Headlines Article

The Dangers of ‘Polypharmacy,’ the Ever-Mounting Pile of Pills
The New York Times

Dr. Caleb Alexander knows how easily older people can fall into so-called polypharmacy. Perhaps a patient, like most seniors, sees several specialists who write or renew prescriptions.

“A cardiologist puts someone on good, evidence-based medications for his heart,” said Dr. Alexander, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness. “An endocrinologist does the same for his bones.”

And let’s say the patient, like many older adults, also uses an over-the-counter reflux drug and takes a daily aspirin or a zinc supplement and fish oil capsules.

“Pretty soon, you have an 82-year-old man who’s on 14 medications,” Dr. Alexander said, barely exaggerating.

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