The survey also found that 14 percent of elderly patients were taking highly toxic medications, such as warfarin -- an anticoagulant -- or anti-inflammatory and blood pressure drugs that have high risks of dangerous side effects.
Munro's findings were presented at the British Pharmaceutical Conference in Manchester, where he suggested that the frequent changes made to elderly people's prescription doses and instructions only increase the risk of fatal drug combinations.
"This research proves that elderly people are at risk of being harmed by potentially lethal mixtures of medicines," Munro said. "Most people probably aren't aware that they are in any danger. Further evaluation of such interventions is absolutely necessary in this area, especially for those people with minimal social support."
"The elderly are dangerously overmedicated," agreed Mike Adams, a consumer health advocate and holistic nutritionist. "Not only are these medications failing to address underlying health concerns, they're actually destroying the health and function of vital organs like the liver, kidneys, heart and brain," he said. "What elderly people need is real nutrition, not toxic combinations of synthetic chemicals that just happen to generate profits for the world's most profitable and influential corporations."
Jonathan Ellis, poly manager at Help the Aged, says many elderly people are hospitalized for adverse drug reactions, and that hospitalization often worsens the patient's problems because while in the hospital, their prescriptions are often further adjusted.
"GPs (general practitioners) and pharmacists should be giving elderly people more information, as it can be quite confusing when you have lots of pills to take and they are being changed," says Ellis.
FDA-approved prescription drugs currently kill approximately 100,000 Americans each year, even when properly prescribed and consumed.