Interactions: tens of thousands of deaths each year

Tens of thousands of patients die each year from drug side effects and drug interactions

Every year tens of thousands die in Germany from the side effects of medication. The most serious side effects are liver failure, gastrointestinal bleeding and heart attack. The most common cause of death is from pain relievers, antihypertensives, anesthetics and antidepressants.

Over 50,000 deaths from side effects Every year, some tens of thousands of people in Germany die from overdoses, side effects and side effects from medication. However, the study situation is not clear. According to the studies, according to the consumer magazine "Good Council" between 25,000 and 58,000 deaths per year. If the study data were transferred from Norway to Germany, more than 50,000 people would die from undesirable drug effects. A prospective study by a Norwegian clinic concluded in 2004 that around 18 percent of deaths occurred due to adverse drug events (UAE). The researchers examined the death data of all deceased patients in a Norwegian hospital over the past two years. Another study (Pirmohamed Metal .: Adverse drug reactions as a cause, BMJ) came to the conclusion that the number of serious adverse drug events has increased dramatically in recent years. The main reason for this is the so-called polypharmacy (several different drugs at the same time) of older patients. "Between 5 and 13 percent of all hospital admissions result from drug side effects," said the study authors.

Multiple intakes increase risk If a patient takes five medications a day, he or she must expect ten or more side effects and interactions, said Dr. Keihan Ahmadi-Simab, chief and specialist for internal medicine at the Asklepios Rheumatism Center in Hamburg opposite the sheet. On average, 65-year-olds in Germany consume about six medicines a day.

A study by the Hannover Medical School (MHH) came to the conclusion that the anesthetic agent "Propofol", which is often administered during colonoscopy, also leads to death. According to the study, “around 180 people die each year as a result of the propofol anesthetic”. Extrapolated from 3,000 examinations, 3 patients die.

Dangerous interactions due to different prescriptions The most common drug-damaged patients suffer from gastrointestinal bleeding, liver failure, kidney failure, heart attack or muscle inflammation. “The most common side effects and complications are caused by the drugs that are most often prescribed. These are blood lipid and blood pressure lowerers, pain relievers, antidepressants and gastric acid blockers, ”the medical doctor Ahmadi-Simab told“ Good advice ”. For example, patients with heart problems are given the blood thinning agent clopidogrel in combination with the gastric acid blocker PPI. The acid blocker then in turn causes a reduction in blood thinning. For this reason, there are 30 percent more heart attacks as a result.

Older patients in particular are at greater risk because their metabolism changes with increasing age. The drugs are often researched and tested in the approval studies for young people.

Priscus list on interactions and alternative medications As a little helper, pharmacologist Petra Thürmann from the University of Witten / Herdecke, in collaboration with colleagues, has published a list of medicines and their interactions. The Priscus list can be viewed here. According to Thürmann, around 15 to 20 percent of those over 75 who live independently in their own household would take critical medication. With the help of the list, the expert wants to educate doctors and patients about possible side effects and alternative preparations. (sb)

Also read:
Colonoscopy deaths from propofol
As of today, patients can report side effects
Side effects with antidepressants
Medicinal side effects increase with age

Image: Birgit H /

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