Mixing Medications can Produce a Dangerous Cocktail


INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Taking more than one medication at a time is often necessary, but sometimes, medications can’t be mixed. If they are, it causes an interaction that could be serious or even deadly. Doctors say it happens more than you may think, leading to a quarter of a million hospitalizations each year in the U.S. Mixing Medications

About 60 percent of Americans take at least one prescription medication, according to the CDC – 36 percent take at least three. One thing doctors have to consider when prescribing a new medication is if it will interact with any drugs the patient is already taking.

“If the coordination of care is not done well, a drug-drug interaction could be overlooked,” explains Michael Weiner, MD, MPH, Research Scientist at Regenstrief Institute & U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Professor of Medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine.

(Read Full Interview)

When medications interact in a negative way, it could change the effectiveness of the drug and be dangerous for the patient.

Dr. Weiner adds, “These drug interactions can have a wide range of effects that can range from mild to deadly.”

He says patients can help by doing three things.

“Know the drugs you’re taking and why you’re taking them, that’s first. Second, bring the drugs to your doctor’s visits. And third, ask your health care professionals if any of these drugs will interact with each other,” Dr. Weiner says.

He also says if you start a new medication or your doctor changes the dosage of one you are already taking, look for any unusual symptoms. If you experience any, report them to your doctor quickly.

Contributors to this news report include: Lindsay Dailey, Producer; Kyle Fisher, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT:        MB #5375

BACKGROUND: According to a Statista Consumer Insights survey, more than half of adults in the United States were taking prescribed drugs regularly in 2021. The results showed that over one-third of respondents took prescribed medicine daily, while one in five took prescribed medicine multiple times a day. Although the percentage of people taking medication daily was higher for those aged 70 and above, younger adults were also taking medicine regularly. The survey found that 38% of adults aged 20-29 were taking prescribed medication at least once per day in 2021, while the figure climbed to 51% for 30-39-year-olds and 58% for 40-49-year-olds. The percentage of females and males taking prescribed medication was similar, with 20% of females reporting taking prescribed medication several times versus 21% of males.

(Source: https://www.statista.com/chart/31183/us-respondents-who-are-taking-prescribed-medicine/#:~:text=The%20survey%20found%20that%2038,for%2040%2D49%20years%20olds)

DIAGNOSING: When medication works right, it boosts your health or helps you feel better, but a drug can bring on problems if it doesn’t mix well with something else you put into your body, like another medication. It could make your medication stop working, become less effective, or too strong. It could also trigger side effects. Taking a cough medicine and a drug to help you sleep could cause the two medications to affect each other. The symptoms of a drug interaction can vary a lot, depending on the drugs you’re taking and how they’re interacting. When two drugs can cause the same side effect and are used at the same time, they might cause more of that side effect. Sometimes a drug or supplement can block or trap another drug in the intestine before it can be absorbed.

(Source: https://www.webmd.com/interaction-checker/default.htm)

TREATMENT: Mixing medications can be addressed by looking at alternative treatments that may be safer. Healthcare providers should inform patients about the warning signs of potential drug-drug interactions and related adverse events. There may be situations where the benefits of taking multiple drugs may outweigh the risks associated with an interaction. In other instances, it may be necessary to take a preventative approach by involving the patient’s healthcare team or the patient themselves. With an increased understanding of clinicians’ cognitive processes related to drug-drug interactions, it may be possible to develop electronic health record (EHR) system alerts that provide more timely and actionable information to better inform clinicians’ decision-making processes.



Regenstrief Institute PR Team


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com


Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Michael Weiner, MD, MPH, Research Scientist, Professor of Medicine

Read the entire Q&A