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AGS: High-Tech Pillbox Improves Adherence

Related study shows high rate of adverse effects in seniors who take multiple medications

MONDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- In older adults, an interactive, multi-drug electronic pillbox may improve medication adherence. Also, older adults who take five or more medications per day are likely to experience drug-related side effects that go unrecognized by their physicians, according to two studies presented this week at the American Geriatrics Society's Annual Scientific Meeting in Washington, D.C.

In the first study, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy compared medication adherence rates before and after providing seniors with a MedSignals interactive, electronic, multi-drug, multi-dose pillbox. They found that use of the pillbox was associated with significantly higher adherence. Only 6 percent of seniors missed all doses on any given day when using the pillbox compared to 12 percent who did so before receiving the pillbox.

In the second study, over 150 seniors who took at least five medications per day were interviewed by researchers from Yale University School of Medicine. The investigators found that more than 90 percent of the subjects experienced at least one adverse effect such as mood changes, insomnia, impaired balance, fatigue and dizziness, and that more than 33 percent believed that medications were involved. The researchers also found that more than 70 percent of the subjects' health care providers documented adverse effects, but that only 13.4 percent listed drugs as a possible cause. In the cases where providers suspected drug involvement, 64 percent responded by either discontinuing a medication or prescribing a lower dose.

"These findings underscore the need to develop systematic approaches to identify possible drug-related symptoms and modify medications in response to identified symptoms," the second study's lead author, Joseph V. Agostini, M.D., said in a statement.

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