Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR)

Check out these statistics:

  • 6.7% of all hospitalizations are the result of ADRs.
  • More than half of the ADRs that occur to patients in the community are considered to be preventable. Patients with HIV/AIDS were found to have an increased risk of ADRs.
  • It is estimated that between 44 000 and 98 000 people in the USA hospitals die each year because of medical errors, with medication errors playing a significant role in many of these deaths. This was reported by the Institute of Medicine in the US, but the figure could be very much higher as many deaths may not be recognized as due to the drugs.
  • From Australia there are similar reports of medication error as a major contributor to medical errors, with 26% of 27 000 hospital-related incidents being medication related, as were 36% of 2 000 anesthesia-related incidents, and 50% of 2 500 general practice incidents. Again these are probably the lower end of what is really going on, as these figures exclude ADRs due to overdose, drug abuse, or therapeutic failures.
  • Some countries reportedly spend up to 15-20% of their hospital budget dealing with drug complications. Clearly, ADRs are a major health problem and should really redefine and contribute to the discussion on risks vs. benefits. With the really great difficulty of diagnosing long-term consequences of drugs, the risks involved over the many years of taking drugs have not been established.
  • A 93-year old mother of a friend was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia until it was noted that she had been taking statins for a very long time. Now she’s been told to stop the statins. These cases just don’t get recorded. The author of this study also points out that medicines that are newer may be reported as ‘safe’ mainly as a result of lack of adequate experience and knowledge of the potential risks of the medicine in the population.
[Mehta U Parmaco vigilance: The devastating consequences of not thinking about adverse drug reactions. CME.2011;29(6):247-249]
Excerpt from The  South African Society of Integrative Medicine (SASIM)
60th issue July 2011 by Dr. Bernard Brom

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