Prescription Drugs: Health Promoting or Illness Producing?

This week I want to inform all of you of a book that I think everyone should own. It is called "Worst Pills Best Pills: The Older Adult's Guide to Avoiding Drug-Induced Death or Illness."

According to the author Dr. Sidney Wolfe, M.D., drug induced illness is the leading cause of preventable disease in older people. I will present some remarkable statistics that should open your eyes. The information in this book could help save you from experiencing a debilitating adverse reaction or even save your life or the life of someone you love.

Each year-

61,000 older adults contract drug induced Parkinsonism.
32,000 drug induced hip fractures.
1,500 deaths attributable to drug induced falls.
16,000 injurious car crashes caused by adverse drug reactions.
163,000 with drug induced or drug-worsened memory loss.
659,000 who have been hospitalized because of adverse drug reactions.

An older adult is considered someone over 60, but this book is important for those of you under 60. According to Dr. Wolfe, beginning in your 30s, the ability of the liver to metabolize drugs and even more importantly, of the kidney to clear drugs out of the body, and the output of the heart all begin to decrease. Since most people in their 30s or 40s are not given many prescription drugs, these changes alone do not usually lead to a large number of drug-induced medical problems. Remember that many drug induced adverse reactions can occur in anyone at any age. They just occur more often in older adults.

The book has a list of many drugs in which they say "do not use". They then list safer alternative medications or more effective treatments.

A few of the "do not use" drugs that they list are as follows:

Valium, Dalmane, Halcion, Restoril, Ativan, and Xanax


Darvocet or Darvon, Indocin, and Feldene

Persantine, Lopid, Aldomet, Dyrenium, and Catapres

Bentyll, Donnatal, Librax, Lomotil

Recent studies according to Dr. Wolfe have found that:

70% of doctors treating Medicare patients flunked an exam concerning their knowledge of prescribing to older adults.
59% of patients were prescribed a less than-optimal drug or one not effective for their disease.
28% were given doses which were too high.
48% of patients were given drugs with one or more harmful interactions with other drugs.

Lastly this quote from the World Health Organization:

"... quite often, the history and clinical examination of patients with drug side effects reveal that no valid indication (purpose) for the drug has been present..."

Please do not assume that your prescription drug is safe for you. Of all of the books on the market that I have seen, this one is the most complete.

You can write to:

Public Citizen
1600 20th Street NW
Washington,DC 20009

If you are taking a prescription drug and are concerned about its side effects, you can e-mail me or call the office with the name of the medication, and we will copy the information in the book and mail it to you.