Rx: Not for the Elderly

A million American senior citizens each year take drugs they should probably never be given. What to watch for

Something is wrong with the way drugs are prescribed to the elderly in this country. Every year, according to last week's Journal of the American Medical Association, nearly 7 million older Americans--about one-fifth of the population age 65 or older--are given medications that are rarely appropriate for people their age. Worse still, the same article reports, nearly 1 million swallow pills that an expert panel has determined senior citizens should probably never take.

How does this happen? Mix-ups, pill sharing and people using expired prescriptions contribute, but at least part of the problem is the way doctors are trained. Pediatrics is...

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