Use of Prescription and OTC Medications & Dietary Supplements Among U.S. Older Adults
In this study of community-dwelling older adults, prescription and nonprescription
medications were commonly used together, with nearly 1 in 25 individuals
potentially at risk for a major drug-drug interaction.
Design, Setting, and Participants: Three thousand five community-residing
individuals, aged 57 through 85 years, were drawn from a cross-sectional,
nationally representative probability sample of the United States. In-home
interviews, including medication logs, were administered between June 2005 and
March 2006. Medication use was defined as prescription, over-the-counter, and
dietary supplements used “on a regular schedule, like every day or every week.”
Concurrent use was defined as the regular use of at least 2 medications.
Results: The survey response rate was 74.8%. Eighty-one percent used at least
1 prescription medication, 42% used at least 1 over-the-counter medication, and
49% used a dietary supplement. Twenty-nine percent used at least 5 prescription
medications concurrently; this was highest among men and women aged 75 to 85
years. Among prescription medication users, concurrent use of over-the-counter
medications was 46% and concurrent use of dietary supplements was 52%.
Overall, 4% of individuals were potentially at risk of having a major drug-drug
interaction; half of these involved the use of nonprescription medications. These
regimens were most prevalent among men in the oldest age group and nearly half
involved anticoagulants. No contraindicated concurrent drug use was identified.
Conclusions: In this sample of community-dwelling older adults, prescription and
nonprescription medications were commonly used together, with nearly 1 in 25
individuals potentially at risk for a major drug-drug interaction.
[Source JAMA. 2008; 300(24):2867-2878.]
NCPIE encourages healthcare professionals and community groups to foster patient–professional communication about medicines. However, NCPIE does not supervise or endorse the activities of any group or professional. Discussion and action concerning medicines are solely the responsibility of the patient and their healthcare professionals, and not NCPIE.
Please consult a licensed health care professional with questions or concerns about your medication and/or condition.