Drugs and Medical Devices that Seniors Need To Be Aware of

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by Jennifer Mesko

Drugs and medical devices play an important part in senior health care, but many carry risks.

There are several drugs and medical devices that seniors need to be aware of, including some diabetes drugs, certain pillship implants and all transvaginal mesh implants.

Diabetes Drugs Pose Risks

The American Diabetes Association estimates that nearly 11 million Americans older than 65 are living with diabetes, which makes managing diabetes an important goal for seniors.

While a healthy diet and physical activity are important parts of controlling diabetes, there are also many drugs on the market designed to help people living with type 2 diabetes.

While these medications are effective in controlling blood sugar, there is also the risk of serious complications. Problematic diabetes medications include:

Medical Device Harm

The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires medical devices to have a “reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness” before they can be sold. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is in charge of enforcing this law.

In recent years, the FDA has alerted the public about some problematic hip implants.

Nearly a half-million hip replacement surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year, and most patients will see success with their surgeries.

Some patients, however, have serious complications stemming from metal hip implants. Metal-on-metal hips, which have two or more metal parts, release tiny particles of metal into the body. This can lead to tissue damage, early failure of the hip, and even metal poisoning.

Some of the world’s leading medical device manufacturers, including DePuy, Stryker and Zimmer, have recalled some of their hip implants after complications were reported.

Women Should Know Risks of Transvaginal Mesh

Senior women, who are likely to suffer from stress urinary incontinence and/or pelvic organ prolapse, need to be aware of the risks of transvaginal mesh implants.


These medical devices, which are designed to support the internal organs, can instead lead to pain, infection and organ perforation.

Unfortunately, the FDA did not require manufacturers to test transvaginal mesh products before they were implanted into hundreds of thousands of American women.

Mesh manufacturers — including C.R. Bard, American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific and Ethicon – are facing lawsuits over their devices.


Knowing the risks associated with commonly used drugs and devices can help seniors make informed decisions about their health care.


Jennifer Mesko is the managing editor of Drugwatch.com, a consumer advocacy website. She aims to keep the public informed about dangerous prescription drugs and defective medical devices.

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