University of Iowa study shows rising trend of unintentional poisoning deaths - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

University of Iowa study shows rising trend of unintentional poisoning deaths

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - A University of Iowa study says unintentional poisoning deaths more than doubled from 2004 to 2008 in the state of Iowa. The study compiles death certificates citing things like alcohol and drug overdoses as the cause of death.

Dr. James Torner says the biggest jump in unintentional poisoning deaths are those linked to prescription drugs. "The change occurred in the older population, 45 to 64 years of age," said Torner.

Torner says many people take two or more kinds of medication these days, but he told us that this most recent set of numbers shows him that they're often over-used or being mixed with other substances. "It shows us that there are severe consequences to drug use, alcohol use, and not only from illicit drugs, but also prescription drugs."

In many cases, mixing two or more types of prescription medications can be toxic. He says that's where doctors and pharmacists like Stevie Veach can help. Veach, a pharmacist at Liberty Pharmacy, has been focusing on patient education. She tells us many people simply don't know that taking two different drugs at the same time can be dangerous. She used herbal supplements as an example, as they're not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

"Some of the herbal products can thin the blood," said Veach, "so if you're already on blood thinners, it could double-up on the blood-thinning effects of your medications."

Some of her customers use more than one pharmacy to get the best prices, but may be putting themselves at risk in doing so. "We're always looking for a better deal, and when you use multiple pharmacies, our computer systems aren't linked, and we can't always check for those [drug] interactions."

She encourages customers to write down what other medications they're taking, to avoid health risks. If you think you've taken medications that don't mix, contact the Iowa Poison Control Center, at 1-800-222-1222.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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