A survey of prescription and non-prescription drugs, vitamins and herbal remedies has revealed the fact that the vast majority of people in the US regularly take multiple medications.
from Boston University School of Public Health analysed data on 2590 subjects, 18 years of age and older, collected via an ongoing telephone survey carried out from February 1998 to December 1999.
Results showed that 81 per cent had used at least one medication in the previous week, while 50 per cent took at least one prescription drug, 25 per cent took five drugs and 7 per cent took five or more drugs.
Of the people interviewed, 14 per cent were taking herbals/supplements, and 16 per cent of those taking prescription drugs were also taking herbals/supplements. Drugs were taken most commonly for headache and hypertension whereas vitamins/minerals and herbals/supplements were used for ‘health’.
Given the possibility of adverse drug interactions, it seems even more urgent that physicians learn to ask, and patients learn to volunteer, what medications/supplements they are taking as a matter of routine (JAMA, 2002; 287: 337-44).