The record holders took 40 medications a day. “They came with whole bags.”

The record holders took 40 medications a day.  “They came with whole bags.”

– Taking many medications, often on your own, leads to a spiral of complications and the need to take further medications. Side effects of multi-drug use are “treated” with subsequent preparations. Drug reviews can prevent this, which is why we fight for them, says Agnieszka Neumann-Podczaska, professor at the Medical University of Poznań.

Katarzyna Pinkosz, “Wprost”: You have been involved in pharmaceutical care for many years, including the introduction of the so-called drug reviews in pharmacies. Is it true that Poles often use several dozen medications a day?

Prof. Agnieszka Neumann-Podczaska: Poles swallow billions of zlotys in pills. We are among the countries that use a large number of dietary supplements and over-the-counter drugs. I managed a pilot program for drug reviews: very often people came to pharmacies with bags of medicines. Some were taking more than 40 medications a day. I’m talking about all preparations: prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, dietary supplements.

We even published the book “Drug Reviews. True Stories”, where we showed how we managed to help people with polypharmacy. And polydrug use can be very dangerous. We seem to use drugs to improve our health…

Isn’t that the case? Can medications be harmful?

Taking multiple medications can definitely be harmful. Often, the patient goes to many different specialists, each of whom looks at the treatment in a specific way, within their specialization. And the patient also uses over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements. It fuels the spiral of polydrug addiction, a vicious circle.

Taking multiple medications often causes further symptoms as a result of side effects and drug-to-drug reactions. They are not associated with drug-related effects, but are treated as other diseases. Taking many medications, improperly selected, may not improve but even worsen your health.

Taking medications causes symptoms for which the doctor prescribes further medications, while it would be better to discontinue one of the medications?

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