When most people take prescription medication, they assume the medicine is safe. They take it for granted that the prescription drug has been tested, approved, and checked for accuracy and safety. After all, medication must undergo testing before it’s allowed on the market. As a result, prescription medication is widely viewed as reliable and low-risk.
Unfortunately, drug interactions are more common than you might realize. In fact, more people die of drug interactions each year than they do in car crashes.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that about 34,000 people die each year in car accidents. By contrast, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that 100,000 people are killed by drug interactions annually. An additional 2 million suffer serious or life-threatening complications due to drug interactions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug interactions cost Americans $3.5 billion in unnecessary health care costs each year.
Drug interactions can occur when a drug interacts with another drug, when a drug interacts with food, or when a drug interacts with a medical condition. In some situations, a drug interaction can be deadly.
Drug Interactions Preventable
According to the CDC, 40 percent of all drug interactions that happen outside a hospital setting are preventable. The organization has pushed for more public education programs, greater drug controls, and more effective labeling as a way to prevent drug interactions.
Additionally, pharmacists and physicians can prevent drug interactions by ensuring patients receive the correct medication and the right dosage. Health care professionals should also take care to talk with patients and check patients’ medical history to determine if there are any contraindications for prescribing certain drugs.