As many as 2.7 million Canadians are allergic to some or all of the prescribed medications they are prescribed, according to a new study by a pharmaceutical company.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. says the study of 2,000 people showed a high incidence of allergies.
It found that people who take some or none of the prescription medications are more likely to develop allergies to prescription medication, such as hay fever and allergic rhinitis, and more likely than others to develop an allergic reaction to another medication, like a skin rash.
The study also found that the higher a person’s allergic reaction was to a prescribed drug, the greater their risk of developing an allergic response.
For instance, a person with hay fever allergy was 2.5 times more likely for an allergic rhino to develop allergic rhinosensitivity.
A person with asthma who had an allergic allergic reaction of asthma to prescription medications was 6.5-times more likely.
The findings are the first of their kind, said Alexion’s president and CEO, Dr. Eric Smith.
It’s a good reminder that a lot of the medications are not as safe as they’re made out to be, said Smith, a professor of dermatology at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus.
“People should be very cautious,” he said.
“They should have an allergy test and be tested for allergies to the medication and not just allergies to it.”
A number of people are allergic and it is important to take medications with caution, said Dr. David Oates, a Toronto allergist.
“I don’t recommend this is a test to be taken in a clinic.
It’s not a test for allergy,” Oates said.
Smith said the study found that among people who were prescribed certain prescription drugs for asthma and hay fever, the prevalence of allergies to prescribed medications was higher among those who had developed allergic reactions.
He said the numbers were consistent with what was found in the past when he studied allergy cases in the medical community.
“What we saw in previous studies is that a higher percentage of people who develop allergies will develop asthma, hay fever or allergic rhinasis,” he added.
The company said the findings, which were based on the company’s own data, are preliminary and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Smith added that it is possible that there are differences in the way the data is collected.
For example, patients with hay and asthma may have a history of taking medications with lower doses.
“There is a potential for that data to be skewed,” Smith said.
The number of allergy cases could also be a better indicator of a person in a certain geographic area who is at risk of allergic reactions to a particular medication, he said, than the number of patients in the same geographic area.
“That’s why we think it’s important to look at allergy rates in people in the community as opposed to people in a specific geographic area,” Smith added.
Alexison Pharmaceuticals is also working with other medical providers to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of taking prescribed medications, said spokesman Peter Henschel.
“Our patients are just as vulnerable as any other patients, so we encourage people to talk with their doctor and get tested,” he explained.
Alexions allergy results are available at www.alexionpharm.com and www.facebook.com/alexionspharm or call 1-800-348-2923.