Multiple medicines could do you more harm than good

Chinese Proprietary Medicines, Health supplements, Homeopathic medicines, Therapeutic Products, Traditional medicines, Chinese Proprietary Medicines, Health supplements, Therapeutic products (medicines), Traditional medicines

The simultaneous use of four or more prescription, over-the-counter or traditional medicines at the same time increases the likelihood of side effects, due to the increased risk of interactions between medicines, and with foods or herbal products.

Although this practice is common in older people, anyone who routinely uses multiple medicines at the same time can be affected. This includes people with long-term chronic conditions, who regularly take multiple medicines. Global studies show that one third of people over 75 years old take at least six medicines, with over a million people taking eight or more medicines daily.

Report side effects to your doctor

It is important to report suspected side effects as a patient may be more susceptible to experiencing a side effect with age, when medicines are not being metabolised as efficiently as before or the patient is more sensitive to their effects. Patients who take multiple medicines can also experience increased drug–drug interactions inside the body. By reporting the side effects to your doctor, the benefits and risks of a medicine in clinical use can be better understood and lead to the discovery of previously unknown side effects and interactions.

#MedSafetyWeek campaign

2019’s MedSafetyWeek campaign is a joint effort between 57 medicine regulatory authorities across the globe, with the Health Sciences Authority being one of them. It aims to raise awareness amongst patients, carers and healthcare professionals, on the potential risks of taking multiple medicines at one time and the importance of reporting suspected side effects.

This campaign forms part of a global initiative led by Uppsala Monitoring Centre (UMC) – the World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for International Drug Monitoring – in collaboration with the Heads of Medicines Agencies (HMA) and the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA).