The medicine cabinets in many households contain half-filled bottles of prescription medications. The reason for some of this noncompliance is that the patient was feeling better and decided to discontinue the dosage. Other time, it is due to unpleasant side-effects. According to a survey of 1,040 Americans by Wakefield Research that was conducted for the pharmaceutical manufacturer Biotène, found that more than half (52%) discontinued taking the medication because of side-effects. In addition, nearly 1 in 3 (31%) adults have completely stopped taking a medication because of the side-effects.
Side-effects range from severe, such as allergic reactions to mild, such as slight drowsiness. Many side-effects fall between these two extremes. Dry mouth falls in this category. The survey found that dry mouth, was the reason that 21% stopped taking a medication. According to Biotène, dry mouth is one of the most common side effects of medications. Many common medications can cause dry mouth or list it as a side effect; these include antidepressants, antianxiety, antihistamines, and antipsychotics, as well as commonly used medications for high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
With 50% of Americans on a prescription drug, it is likely that many people are experiencing dry mouth. When patients take more medication, they increase their risk of dry mouth. They have a 35% increased risk for dry mouth when they are on three or more medications. This can be minimized by pharmacists talking to their patients about side effect symptom management.
“Patients head to the pharmacy to get their prescriptions filled, but sometimes pharmacists and patients miss an important opportunity to talk about medication side effects,” noted Sharon Joseph, senior brand manager, Biotène. “By taking the time to alert patients about side effects like dry mouth, and proactively recommend treatment options, together we may help increase overall treatment compliance and ultimately help people feel better.” The survey also showed a majority of Americans (55%) wish their pharmacist would talk to them more about side effects when they pick up their medication, with those 18-25 even more likely to wish their pharmacist would talk to them about medication side effects (65%).
“Sharing side effect information along with medications can have a two-fold benefit,” said Pamala S. Marquess, Pharm.D, president of the Georgia Pharmacy Association, East Marietta Drugs chain store owner, and compensated Biotène spokesperson. She added, “It most importantly helps patients stick with their prescribed treatment plans, but it can also help increase store revenue. Adding an OTC [over-the-counter] to a prescription drug order to effectively help a patient manage a side effect can increase overall store revenue while also helping the patient be more comfortable and manage a side effect, like dry mouth, that has negative ramifications if left untreated.”
Alarmingly, 76% of those surveyed do not even realize dry mouth is a medical condition that should be treated. If left untreated, dry mouth can cause even more oral health problems, increasing ones chances for tooth decay by approximately three-fold. For example, 68% of those surveyed did not know dry mouth can lead to cavities, 54% did not know dry mouth can cause bad breath, and 43% did not even know dry mouth can be a side effect of taking medication.
Patients can take a dry mouth quiz and find dry mouth treatment products at Biotène.com.