You’d be hard pressed to leave a doctor’s office without obtaining a prescription for what ails you. Nowadays, it seems like there’s a pill for just about everything. But just because a doctor prescribes it, doesn’t mean serious complications can’t occur. For instance, a new report in Pharmacy Times indicates that taking two common drugs concurrently can have fatal effects, and unless you are on top of the medication you are taking, you could be taking them together without even knowing it.
The Two Common Drugs That Could Kill in Combination
Drugs that are used to treat two of the biggest health concerns in the United States—high cholesterol and depression—are found to be potentially deadly when taken together. Pravastatin and paroxetine can cause fatal effects in patients who regularly take both drugs.
Pravastatin is a medication that belongs to a group of drugs called HMG CoA reductase inhibitors, or “statins.” Its function is to reduce the levels of low-density lipoprotein—or “bad” cholesterol—and triglycerides in the blood, while increasing the amount of high-density lipoprotein—or “good” cholesterol—in the blood.
Paroxetine is an anti-depressant that is part of a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, that are used to treat a variety of conditions, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Although both drugs are extremely effective in treating their targeted conditions, new research shows that they can be harmful when taken together. The number of people who take each medication is quite alarming: in 2009, around 15 million prescriptions were written for paroxetine in the United States, and 19 million for pravastatin. To add to the alarm, an estimated 30 million people worldwide are plagued with depression, and 100 million have high cholesterol. With so many people affected by these conditions, the chances are high that many people may be prescribed both medications.
People who take both medications can experience significantly higher blood glucose levels, which, over time, can create devastating results, particularly in those with diabetes.
Why Those With Diabetes Are Especially At Risk
For someone with diabetes who is working to control his glucose levels, any factor that increases blood sugar can be dangerous. When these patients experience the increased glucose levels that the combination of the two medications can create, their bodies can begin to destroy themselves. These prolonged spikes in blood sugar levels may eventually result in hyperglycemia and diabetic ketoacidosis. And although the mortality rate for diabetic ketoacidosis is a mere two percent, the prognosis worsens in elderly patients who already have multiple severe health issues.
To add fuel to the fire, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that more than 29 million Americans in the United States have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes. Additionally, another 86 million people have prediabetes, which increases their risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
As you may imagine, the combination of these two pills can wreak havoc on someone who doesn’t know he has diabetes and continues to take both drugs.
Why You Can’t Trust Your Pharmacist
Pharmacies take great pride in the software they use that is designed to alert them to potential dangerous drug interactions. In theory, a computer that monitors the medications patients take and then make potential drug interactions known is an excellent and potentially life-saving tool. However, these programs are not as accurate as the pharmacies may want patients to believe. In fact, studies have shown that only 67 percent of life-threatening interactions are detected by this software, which puts a large number of patients in jeopardy.
Was Your Loved One the Victim of Wrongful Death?
If a doctor or pharmacist allowed your loved one to take this potentially fatal combination of drugs and he or she died as a result, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim. Call the attorneys of the Wayne Wright law firm at 800.237.3334 to find out if you are entitled to receive financial compensation for your losses, and if we can help.