Doctors ‘De-Prescribing’ Medications

Recent investigations and research show that more healthcare providers are ‘de-prescribing’ drugs, as too many medications often yield greater risks than benefits.

Doctors have pinpointed a host of dangers when patients are over-medicated and take several pharmaceuticals—particularly during older age, with multiple chronic conditions. Because all drugs potentially interact with each other, they have the ability to cancel out each other’s effects. Moreover, the drugs often accumulate in the body, which can ultimately impair memory, cause physical accidents, and even lead to hospitalizations.

Because pharmaceuticals all have different properties and compositions, they also produce various side effects. With many medications, particularly heart disease and different cancers (compounded by the toxicity of chemotherapy), the ‘pile-up’ of side effects regularly decreases the drug’s benefits and initial targeted purpose. Several diabetes medications can make blood sugar too low, while anti-psychotics lead patients to become too sedated.

The American Geriatric Society has expressly stated that sleeping pills are no longer recommended for older adults, as they put the brain to sleep; if they stay in the body too long, the brain continues to be shut off. For patients with dementia, it is recommended that they are not prescribed anti-psychotic medications—which are generally utilized to de-agitate—as their sedative effects frequently disguise the real root problem.

Unfortunately, not all physicians are aware of these possible dangers. It is critical to wean off medications, rather than stopping abruptly, in addition to making lifestyle changes, and investigating potential over-the-counter medications.