‘Millions’ prescribed wrong dose of common drugs

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Scientists from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California recently investigated the reliability of so-called pooled cohort equations (PCEs).These dry-sounding sums perform a pivotal role in the prescribing of drugs, including blood pressure medications, statins, and aspirin. PCEs help doctors to determine each patient’s overall risk of stroke or heart attack. Assessing cardiovascular risk helps to inform the physician about the exact level of medication that will be both effective and safe.These equations are available as online web tools and smartphone apps, and they are even built into digital medical records.In recent years, some have called into question the accuracy of PCEs, asking whether the data that they rely on are outdated. If this were found to be the case, patients could potentially be at risk of taking dangerously high or ineffectively low doses of drugs.

Dr. Sanjay Basu, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of primary care outcomes research at Stanford. He set out to uncover whether PCEs should be improved. As he explains, “We found that there are probably at least two major ways to improve the 2013 equations.”

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