June 19, 2011

THAILAND: Drugs making elderly people sick, finds study

BANGKOK / The Nation / National News / June 2011

One in five elderly people taken to hospital are suffering side effects caused by taking two or more drugs at the same time, a recent study revealed.


Anti-diabetes drugs, high blood pressure drugs and carbon-detox drugs are the medicines most commonly used to treat elderly patients, according to a study by the Pharmacy Council.


The study collected data and interviewed 331 elderly patients at a hospital's medicine department over the past six months.

A study found that one in five of them had undergone treatment at hospital because of side effects from taking drugs.

About 40 per cent had taken inappropriate drugs. Around 60 per cent had experienced adverse drug effects from, for example, taking different drugs at the same time, council president Assoc Professor Thida Ningsanont said.

"Elderly patients had visited several hospitals to undergo treatment and receive drugs. Doctors who provided care should know what kind of drugs they had taken," she said.

"Some of them had bought drugs at drugstores by themselves, especially herbal medicines and supplements," she added.

Jatuporn Thong-im, a pharmacist at the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration's Health Unit 51, said elderly people in the community had taken a lot of drugs over the past 10 years. "Some of them told me they had taken drugs like candy. Some like to take antihistamines for a long time as the side effects from taking the drugs help them sleep well," he said, adding that doing so could reduce the effectiveness of high blood pressure drugs.

In a bid to help elderly patients avoid side effects from taking excessive amounts of drugs, the council will distribute about 50,000 diaries, which will help them take notes about the drugs they are prescribed. The diaries can be obtained at hospitals and drug stores.

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