Study: Oklahomans prescribed more high-risk medications than other regions

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The types of medications prescribed to Medicare beneficiaries may vary from state to state, according to a recent study.

That same study shows that Oklahomans may be dealing with higher-risk medication compared to other states.

Researchers with The Dartmouth Atlas Project say that data shows physicians in some regions prescribe medicines that have unreasonable side effects and may not be as effective as newer, better versions.

The study’s lead author, Dr. Jeffrey Munson, says more than the national average of patients in Oklahoma are being prescribed the higher-risk medications.

He says patients in Oklahoma are either not getting the drugs they need or patients are getting drugs that they could do without, due to the side effects.

Carl Robinson says, "I've got a good doctor. He takes good care of me. I hope!"

Carl Robinson is just like many Oklahomans who trust their physician and the medicines they prescribe but when asked what if those medicines were of poor quality he says, "How do you question? You don't know. I don't know."

The Dartmouth University study's lead author says the poorer the quality the riskier the side effects.

"A lot of medications are very sedating, so patients become too sleepy or they become confused,” says Dr. Jeffrey Munson. “Then when they to do their usual daily activities they often fall over and have hip fractures or arm fractures or they just don't wake up."

His recent study shows a map of where in the country you can regularly find these medicines, the darker the orange represents the poorer the quality.

Pharmacist Dani Lynch says, "I'm very disappointed. Very disappointed."

Local pharmacist Dani Lynch is disappointed but not surprised by the study's results. She feels Oklahomans don't know they have options.

Her customers say they are starting to realize the power is in their hands.. And asking physicians the tough questions is key to better understanding what medicines are most effective.

Leah Boltonsays, "Each individual has to responsible for their own well being instead of turning their power to someone else because they think they're more educated."

The medications Dartmouth University wants us to be more educated about are muscle relaxants like Soma and Robaxin, and sedating drugs like Benadryl and Valium.

The study used Medicare beneficiaries to determine where these medicines are used, but Dr. Munson says he thinks the results relate to everyone, no matter your insurance provider.

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