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despres's avatar

What medications, if abruptly discontinued, would result in death?

Asked by despres (6points) January 18th, 2011

I’m working on a crime story where someone murders a crotchety geriatric by switching out their pills. Ideally the drug treats a common illness (eg. heart disease or diabetes) and the medicine is without a distinctive taste or appearance. Thanks!

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6 Answers

lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t know of any drug, if abruptly stopped, would absolutely result in death but for someone with an already damaged heart who is being treated for heigh blood pressure with beta blockers abruptly stopping them could possibly result in death. It can be pretty dangerous, I believe, to stop beta blockers abruptly and could but not necessarily, result in a heart attack. Someone with a healthy heart might recover from heart attack if stopping the beta blockers caused one but someone whose heart is already in bad shape could die. It think it’s a workable scenario.

faye's avatar

Stopping insulin will cause death but it’ll take awhile.

anartist's avatar

I read a mystery once where a prescription for Zantac was confused with a prescription for Xanax and the person died—but I think this is very unlikely and the pills are recognizable anyway.

sinscriven's avatar

The most common pill for diabetes treatment is Metformin, but taking it away wouldn’t cause a sudden death, at least not on its own. It works by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin, so it’s used with insulin therapy or with diet/exercise.

Without it, the body’s own insulin and the injected kind aren’t as effective and blood sugar will slowly increase to dangerous levels until it’s high enough to become diabetic ketoacidosis and the patient will fall into a coma. Depending on how sensitive the patient is to sugar, the metformin could be switched with a placebo pill made from sugar which obviously would have the opposite effect.

I remember seeing a while back on a crime show about how a nurse would kill patients as soon as they are getting better by injecting adrenaline into their IVs. Since it’s a natural substance in the body it’s incredibly hard to detect and was for a while written off as natural death until some detective work and heavy EKG scrutiny proved otherwise.

mowens's avatar


I am aware I will get modded. IT WAS WORTH IT!!!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I believe Lisinopril might work for you.

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