Treatment Issues

Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medicine

A longitudinal study of elderly Mexican Americans in the Southwest revealed that 58.1% of the subjects (2, 895) utilized some type of prescription medicine based on self-report. More women used medications than men, and the type of medicine also differed between genders (Espino, Palmer, Mouton, et al., 2000).

Women tended to use more analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, prescription nutritional supplements, central nervous system and endocrine medications. Men used more hypoglycemic medication compared to women. The over 75 year old group used more cardiovascular medications, nutritional supplements, ophthalmic preparations and antihistamines.

Younger elderly between the ages of 65-74 used more hypoglycemic and endocrine medications. Elders with a higher number of co-morbid conditions were 4.5 more likely to use prescription medication (Espino, et al., 2000).

In the same H-EPESE study, data on the use of over the counter (OTC) medicine used by elderly Mexican Americans revealed that those with lower levels of structural assimilation (Higher structural assimilation = higher English proficiency, greater use of English language in daily life, greater interaction with friends), those with low self-perceived health and those who had more depressive symptoms, used more OTC medication (Espino, et al., 1998)

Border Medication

The increased cost of medication in the United States is increasing the numbers of elderly to purchase both prescription and over the counter medication in Mexico and Canada (Calvo, 1997; Casner & Guerra; 1992, Conian, 1997). In a study conducted in the border city of El Paso, Texas, where 70% of the population is Hispanic, 81% of respondents who received care from an ambulatory teaching internal medicine clinic reported they had purchased medicine from Mexico at one time or another. About 75% of respondents reported purchasing medicine without a prescription.

Reasons provided for purchasing medicine in Mexico included lower cost and not needing a prescription. The most common types of medication purchased by these respondents were blood pressure medications and antibiotics (Casner & Guerra, 1992). Negative repercussions of purchasing medications across the border include: the development of drug resistance to antibiotics, use of drugs not approved for use in the United States, variation in drug dosage and strength, and widespread sales of placebo products (Stoneham, 2000).