Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Frequently prescribed drug used in concerning ways with harmful side effects

Date:
February 6, 2013
Source:
St. Michael's Hospital
Summary:
A popular class of drugs commonly used to treat sleep and mood symptoms continues to be frequently prescribed despite being known to have potentially life-threatening side effects.

A popular class of drugs commonly used to treat sleep and mood symptoms continues to be frequently prescribed despite being known to have potentially life-threatening side effects.

Related Articles


Previous studies have linked benzodiazepines -- a medication class that may be used in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to treat symptoms of insomnia, depression, anxiety and shortness of breath -- with adverse outcomes, but until now there has been little information on how frequently it's prescribed or who is using it.

COPD, also known as emphysema or chronic bronchitis, is most commonly caused by smoking in North America and is estimated to affect 5 to 10 per cent of the Canadian population. American Thoracic Society-European Respiratory Society guidelines recommend that benzodiazepines be avoided in these patients because of potential respiratory-related side-effects.

Dr. Nicholas Vozoris is the lead author of a study published this week in Drugs and Aging looking at the scope of benzodiazepine use in the older adult COPD population to determine just how many people are using the drug.

"I see a large number of COPD patients taking this medication class to help relieve disease-related symptoms like insomnia, depression and anxiety," said Dr. Vozoris, a respirologist at St. Michael's Hospital. "But considering the potential respiratory side-effects, and the well-documented neurocognitive side effects like memory loss, decreased alertness, falls and increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, the high frequency of benzodiazepine use in COPD is very concerning."

Dr. Vozoris and colleagues looked at more than 100,000 adults 66 years and older with COPD in Ontario between 2004 and 2009 to see how many new benzodiazepines were dispensed and the severity of each patients' COPD while on the drug.

The results found that new benzodiazepine dispensing was common and occurred in more than a third of the adults. Use of the drugs was 40 per cent more common amongst those with more severe COPD. This group also had the highest number of repeat prescriptions and early refills and benzodiazepines were also commonly dispensed to patients while they were having flare-ups of the disease.

"These findings are new and they are concerning because they tell us that the patients most at risk to be affected by the adverse effects of this drug are the same ones that are using it with the most frequency," Dr. Vozoris said. "This medication could be causing harm in this already respiratory-vulnerable population."

Although benzodiazepines can be effective for helping patients sleep, this medication class has been previously found to affect breathing ability and oxygen levels at night.

"Patients need to hear this and health care providers need to give thought into who they are prescribing this medication class to," Dr. Vozoris said. "We're talking about a very vulnerable sub-group and we may be inappropriately prescribing this medication class to those patients."

The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by St. Michael's Hospital. The original article was written by Kate Taylor. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicholas T. Vozoris, Hadas D. Fischer, Xuesong Wang, Geoffrey M. Anderson, Chaim M. Bell, Andrea S. Gershon, Anne L. Stephenson, Sudeep S. Gill, Paula A. Rochon. Benzodiazepine Use among Older Adults with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Drugs & Aging, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s40266-013-0056-1

Cite This Page:

St. Michael's Hospital. "Frequently prescribed drug used in concerning ways with harmful side effects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206141643.htm>.
St. Michael's Hospital. (2013, February 6). Frequently prescribed drug used in concerning ways with harmful side effects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206141643.htm
St. Michael's Hospital. "Frequently prescribed drug used in concerning ways with harmful side effects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130206141643.htm (accessed March 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

House Ready to Pass Medicare Doc Bill

AP (Mar. 26, 2015) In rare bipartisan harmony, congressional leaders pushed a $214 billion bill permanently blocking physician Medicare cuts toward House passage Thursday, moving lawmakers closer to resolving a problem that has plagued them for years. (March 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
HIV Outbreak Prompts Public Health Emergency In Indiana

HIV Outbreak Prompts Public Health Emergency In Indiana

Newsy (Mar. 26, 2015) Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says he will bring additional state resources to help stop the epidemic. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Indiana Permits Needle Exchange as HIV Cases Skyrocket

Indiana Permits Needle Exchange as HIV Cases Skyrocket

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 26, 2015) Governor Mike Pence declares the recent HIV outbreak in rural Indiana a "public health emergency" and authorizes a short-term needle-exchange program. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AAA: Distracted Driving a Serious Teen Problem

AP (Mar. 25, 2015) While distracted driving is not a new problem for teens, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says it&apos;s much more serious than previously thought. (March 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins