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Report slams doctors for prescribing habits

The Local · 15 Jun 2011, 12:17

Published: 15 Jun 2011 12:17 GMT+02:00

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The Drugs Report 2011 from the Barmer GEK statutory health insurer is highly critical of a range of prescribing trends.

“There have been clear warnings and contraindications for years against the new patented contraceptive pills, neuroleptic drugs for dementia patients as well as for benzodiapines for alcoholic people. Despite this prescription is continuing at a critical level,” said the report’s author Gerd Glaeske, professor at the Bremen Centre for Social Policy and a widely-respected health policy expert.

The report showed that nearly 14 percent of alcoholics in Germany are prescribed the strong benzodiapine sleeping pills, despite their high addiction risk.

Many patients receive the drugs during clinic stays to come off the drink, as well as afterwards to combat sleep problems and panic attacks. They should not be used for longer periods by alcoholics, the report said, as they are highly addictive and amplify the effect of alcohol.

One in three dementia patients are regularly prescribed strong tranquilizers in the face of evidence that such drugs increase fatality rates among them, the report said. Dementia patients are six times as likely to be given tranquilizers as other people, even though it is known that the drugs increase death rates by up to 1.7 times.

“A patient group with increased fatality risk is getting drugs where the efficacy is in part unproven, and where the effects of long-term use remain unclear,” said Glaeske.

Nearly half of the 20 contraceptive pills which were most widely prescribed in 2010 contain a new hormone mixture which presents twice as much risk of a potentially fatal blood clot as other older pills, the report said. The rate of use among young women in particular was examined, with figures showing that up to 16 percent of girls up to 16 years old, and depending on the region, between 47 and 74 percent of those between 16 and 19, took the pill.

“It is all the more questionable that many of the newer pills, including top-sellers, demonstrate a comparably high risk of thromboembolism,” the report said.

Women who do not take contraceptive pills have a risk of between 3 and 5 per 100,000 of developing thromboembolism while those taking the second generation pills have a risk of around 20 per 100,000. This rate is doubled or even trebled among people taking the new third generation pills according to the latest studies, the report said.

Story continues below…

“Tested pills of the second generation remain the medication of choice, as with all other pills, the risks are higher or difficult to predict,” Glaeske said.

The Local/hc

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:27 June 15, 2011 by ovalle3.14
Token The Local headline: ____ slams ____
00:23 June 16, 2011 by AbhilashD
I'm neither demented nor an alcoholic. But I am under a siht lot of stress but they won't give me the good stuff. They want me to undergo therapy. Brrr. My cousin who's a doc in the US said the doctors at her hospital would've easily prescribed the good stuff for me.
08:12 June 16, 2011 by DoubleDTown
I concur with AbhilashD: where did Barmer GEK find these incidents? I frequently hear about incidents like old ladies with chronic pain being told to deal with it instead of being helped, or people who had surgery only being given Paracetemol to soothe the pain.
05:41 September 12, 2011 by gsuomi
I am a Physician.

Re: Benzodiazepines for alcoholics. Benzodiazepines are addictive. No doubt. But in alcoholics they help to reduce the amount of alcohol intake and many times help totally but gradually giving up drinking. Classic example: 74 years old patient of mine with alcoholism as problem: 3 years ago he almost binge drank himself to death. He was hospitalized with double Pneumonia in a very badly malnourished state. He came out well. At follow up he told me that he can¦#39;t sleep unless he starts drinking at least from 3 PM. I prescribed sleeping pills. He did well. But somewhere along the way his Pharmacist who has no clue of his medical history (I found that by talking to him) told him that sleeping pills are addictive! So he stopped taking them! He was back to square one. I had to counsel him that sleeping pills are like crutches=they help you to get over your problem and you have to choose the lesser of 2 evils for a while. Lesson: Benzodiazepine do help alcoholics and prescription is warranted.

Re: Tranquilizers for Dementia patients: I agree with the observations of the article. You can¦#39;t blame the Doctors or Nurses. The Nurses in the long term care facilities are the one who look after them round the clock. They like all their patients to in a state like in Psychiatric wards. They want them to be quite, lying still like zombies.

Demented patients may lack memory and thus may ask repeated questions: like for example : where is the bathroom? What day is it? It is not same like being agitated and confused and disoriented.

A recent Norwegian study showed what all the agitated demented patients may need is something as simple as Acetaminopehn (Paracetamol for Europeans) to control their pains which it turn controls agitation in them.

What it proves? In my humble opinion it proves the high level of Nursing available to these patients in Norway. (I had never been to Norway) When these wards are short of Nursing staff they simply can¦#39;t manage to look after them as well as they would like= thus in turn they bug the Doctors to prescribe tranquilizers.

These are my observations and opinions about this thought provoking article.

Please watch the movie ¦quot;One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest¦quot; again. It is not a fantasy. It is still a reality today but well hidden to be exposed.
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