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Source: WELT/ Fanny Fee Werther
Younger patients in particular believe that a lot helps a lot. But this is a mistake with some medicines. Even St. John's wort can be extremely harmful in certain combinations.
W hen it doesn't help, at least it can't hurt: Many Germans seem to take medications according to this maxim. 69 percent swallow pills in addition to prescribed drugs – and without consulting their doctor. This is the result of a representative survey of 1000 German citizens commissioned by the biopharmaceutical company UCB, the results of which are available exclusively to WELT AM SONNTAG.
With ten per cent such a parallel use occurs more frequently, with 27 per cent at least occasionally and with 32 per cent rather rarely. Younger patients in particular resort to additional preparations: 76 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds reported taking self-prescribed medications, such as headache pills, in addition to prescription drugs.
Even St. John's wort can be dangerous
It is usually not a problem to take a painkiller once in a while or for a short period of time, despite long-term medication," says Bernd Muhlbauer, a pharmacologist from Bremen who is a member of the board of the Drug Commission of the German Medical Association. Everyday drugs would be developed with a certain "therapeutic breadth" within which interactions with other agents taken occasionally would have little effect.
The situation is quite different, however, if, for example, one has to take immunosuppressants after an organ transplant and also swallows preparations with St. John's wort against depression: "Patients have already lost their transplants in such cases." That their behavior can be dangerous is clear to many Germans. Almost half of those surveyed (47 percent) are at least occasionally concerned about side effects or interactions.
Younger patients act on their own authority
At the same time, however, they run a further risk: 57 percent admitted that they had already discontinued prescribed medication without consulting their doctor. The reason given by 27 percent was that they felt better and no longer considered it necessary to take the medication. 22 percent justified the discontinuation with severe side effects and 14 percent said that the drug did not help them. Pharmacologist Muhlbauer ies an urgent warning against this behavior. Even if symptoms are gone after taking an antibiotic, "there are still bacteria hiding in secret corners of the body". Patients should absolutely keep to the intake duration recommended by the physician.
Again it is noticeable that above all younger ones act arbitrarily. While two out of three respondents among 18- to 29-year-olds have already discontinued a drug treatment without consulting their doctor, this only happens to just under half among 50- to 59-year-olds. Younger people are also the ones who research information about prescribed medications on the Internet – and 53 percent of them stop taking them afterwards. This happens much less frequently with older patients. The latter rely mainly on their doctor for the dosage, while younger people use several sources.
Sedation, hypnosis& Co.
Expert Muhlbauer advises patients to actively inform their doctor about which additional medications they take occasionally or regularly. And Ulrich Koczian, vice president of the Bavarian State Chamber of Pharmacists and a pharmacist in Augsburg, recommends asking for a medication plan from the doctor so that pharmacists could inform them about interactions.