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Study shows women's medication use higher than expected

ions such as headaches, upset stomachs or achy joints. The patients were then presented with a list of common mediations--including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins and herbal supplements--and asked whether they took any of those medications.

Researchers found that every set of questions uncovered additional medications patients didn't initially report. They also discovered that while a patient may report that she's taking a medication during the first visit's interview, she failed to mention it on subsequent visits without prompting.

The interviews were conducted during a 42-month period. During the study, 567 patients had 776 interviews. Patients who had multiple visits during that time frame were interviewed multiple times. The interviews were conducted following women's visits to their gynecologist. Only nonpregnant women were interviewed.

Among the women who took prescription medications, 20 percent used more than one medication, and 39 percent took more than four medications. Of those interviewed, 97 percent took at least one over-the-counter medication, and 59 percent took more than four OTC medications.

The data also showed several potentially serious drug interactions. The most commonly prescribed medication was antibiotics, some of which are thought to reduce the efficacy of birth control pills.

Researchers also found that nearly 25 percent of patients took medications for anxiety, depression or other mental health issues. Of patients who used oral contraception, 2.3 percent took St. John's wort, which can reduce the efficacy of the birth control pill.

The study also found several women taking prescription antidepressants also self-medicated with St. John's wort, an herbal supplement commonly used to treat depression, which has been shown to have potentially harmful interactions with prescription antidepressants.

"Will this drug interaction kill you? Probably not," Tracy says. "Can you experience serious advers
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Contact: Ashley Burt
ashleyb@umn.edu
612-624-2449
University of Minnesota
24-Feb-2004


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