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How often do people take prescription drugs incorrectly?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Unfortunately, misuse of and misinformation about prescription drugs is not uncommon. In fact, it happens all the time: One doctor prescribes a medicine for a patient without knowing that another doctor has prescribed a second medicine for that same person. Somehow the information isn't communicated: The patient either forgets to tell the doctor what he or she is taking, or tells the doctor the wrong name for the medication (this is easy to do). The result can be a potentially life-threatening drug combination.

Mixing drugs, taking medicines beyond their prescribed time, or taking them erratically can be hard on your body and can make you older rather than younger. This is a common American habit. Only 32 percent of statin drugs (for example, Zocor, Pravachol, Lipitor, and Crestor) that are prescribed are taken as the doctor instructed; only 38 percent of antihypertensives (drugs that lower blood pressure) are taken as instructed. Is it the cost? No. Even when the medications are free, only 23 percent of people will take these drugs to reduce their blood pressure below 140/90 mg/dl, the American Heart Association's "danger zone."

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.