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.]
http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/300/24/2867