Nature Medicine | Spoonful of Medicine

Taking multiple medications at the same time can lead to unexpected — and potentially life-threatening — drug interactions, doctors say

By Stu Hutson

4882443448_ab47e2f22b_m.jpgThe number of people concurrently taking multiple prescription drugs is on the rise. According to numbers released last fall by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in ten Americans is now on five or more medications—nearly twice as many people as in 2000—and the number of people taking at least two drugs has risen from a quarter to a third of the population over the same time period. Similar statistics are also reported throughout Europe.

And as drug combinations grow more common, so does the risk that these medicines may interact in unpredictable ways that may go undetected until it’s too late. Indeed, researchers across the world say that such ‘silent’ drug interactions pose a growing and widely misunderstood threat.

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Image by Keith Ramsey, Flickr


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