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Pharmaceuticals

Crushing pharmaceutical pills to make them easier to swallow increases their danger

Friday, October 27, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: pharmaceuticals, medication, dangerous drugs


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(NewsTarget) If you're used to crushing prescription drug pills to make them easier to swallow or ingest, you may be doing more harm than good, warns a new report from medical experts.

According to David Wright -- who led the study -- crushing pills to make them easier to swallow can cause serious side effects that can sometimes be fatal, adding that pills often have special coatings that affect how they are released in the body. Crushing means this complex system is disturbed.

Since it is estimated that 60 percent of elderly people have trouble swallowing medications, this could possibly be contributing to an estimated 75 million prescriptions a year associated with adverse drug reactions. In addition to prescription drug customers crushing their own pills, previous research has shown 80 percent of nurses in nursing homes resort to crushing tablets to help residents take medicines.

The report labeled the breast cancer drug Tamoxifen and morphine drugs as drugs that should not be crushed at all. According to the group's report, crushing Tamoxifen could result in the person who is breaking up the tablet breathing in medication, which could be dangerous if they are pregnant. In addition, crushing morphine could lead to a fatally fast release of the drug.

Wright -- a senior lecturer in pharmacy at the University of East Anglia in Britain -- recently told the British Broadcasting Company that "crushing pills increases the risk of side effects, of the patient getting a large dose of a drug which should be released slowly or a drug being cleared from the body too early before it can do anything fatalities can happen, although they are not that common."

Wright added that doctors needed to check if patients were happy to swallow pills when they first issued prescriptions, and at follow-up appointments. "The vast majority of medicines are available in liquid form, patches or using an inhaler."

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