Oxybutynin or Ditropan is prescribed to treat urinary problems in millions of American seniors every year. More than 25 percent of older Americans with overactive bladders are given Ditropan by their doctors. However, research shows that Ditropan may not be the best option for these patients, as it has been linked to serious cognitive issues including dementia. Older patients are more susceptible than younger patients to cognitive decline caused by Ditropan, and should be carefully monitored by their doctors.
Ditropan and Overactive Bladder
According to the Urology Care Foundation, 33 million Americans suffer from an overactive bladder. People with overactive bladders need to urinate often, quickly, or both. Ditropan is one of the most often prescribed medications for treatment of an overactive bladder. The U.S. National Ambulatory Medical Care surveyed 2,600 patients with overactive bladders and found that more than one-quarter of them received Ditropan or something equivalent.
Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that all Ditropan patients receive pre-medication neurological screening, less than 10 percent of participants did. Research going back to 2015 shows the link between ongoing use of anticholinergic drugs to short and long-term side effects that include drowsiness, constipation, and dementia. Physicians aware of this connection who fail to conduct neurological screening with the prescription of Ditropan, or offer alternative treatment may be negligent.
Alternatives to Ditropan
Considering the potential risk for cognitive impairment after long-term use of oxybutynin or Ditropan, physicians should consider alternative treatment options for patients with urinary problems. Simple lifestyle modifications are always the first step in tackling overactive bladder. Seniors can try targeted exercises, diet changes, and scheduled urination as non-medical first steps.
When lifestyle changes are ineffective, medication is the next option. Unfortunately for seniors, alternative medications used to treat an overactive bladder are not always covered by insurance and can be costly. Patients with Medicare must try Ditropan and “fail” before being approved for the second tier of medications. Drugs commonly used as alternatives to oxybutynin have not yet been ruled out as causing cognitive issues including dementia.
There are some new options on the horizon for patients with overactive bladders. Botox inserted directly into the bladder is currently being researched as a possible treatment option. A procedure where the nerves surrounding the bladder are zapped with electricity is another possibility. New medications are also in the pipeline. Until a safer option is approved, doctors treating overactive bladders owe it to their patients to offer alternative options to Ditropan, to order the safest dosage available, consider a patient’s family history of cognitive disorders, and closely monitor neurological changes in patients who are already taking the drug.
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Patients depend on their physicians to prescribe safe drugs in safe doses. When a doctor fails to consider the data suggesting a drug is unsafe, they may be negligent. If you or a family member has been seriously affected by a doctor’s carelessness or poor treatment, you may have a case for medical malpractice. Cherry Hill medical malpractice lawyers at Folkman Law Offices, P.C. will explain what is needed to prove your case.
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