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Geriatric Guinea Pigs

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Past the age of 55, my hitherto healthy and pill-free body took a definite turn for the worse.

Putting my left leg in for the hokey-cokey produced a sharp pain in my kneecap, and at yoga it was easier to execute the dead dog than the downward variety.

Reluctant, apologetic visits to my doctor elicited offers of statins, hormones, painkillers, blood-thinners, stomach-liners, anti-inflammatories — drugs I’d only read about previously in alarming Daily Mail headlines.

How many of these, I asked, are to offset the side-effects of the other pills? And what evidence is there that I have to take these drugs for the rest of my life, in order to stay healthy?

The answer seems to be — very little. But we know medicines can cause different reactions in older people — so why are drug trials limited to younger people, asks veteran scientific broadcaster and former medical researcher Geoff Watts.


Many medicines that older people take have not been properly tested in their age group. It is a worry to Geoff Watts who is in his 70s. He asks what's being done to address this.

Cast & Crew

Contributor Geoff Watts
Producer Beth Eastwood


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