The New York Times looks at the issue of doctors throwing more and MORE drugs at older Americans to take…..
And we’re not just talking about the cost and dependency ….
Fourteen prescriptions? “Unfortunately, that’s pretty common” for older patients, Dr. Nothelle said. The phenomenon is called polypharmacy, sometimes defined as taking five or more medications, as two-thirds of older people do.
More broadly, polypharmacy refers to an increasing overload of drugs that may not benefit the patient or interact well with one another, and that may cause harm including falls, cognitive impairment, hospitalization and death. It has sparked interest in “deprescribing”: the practice in which doctors and patients regularly review medication regimens to prune away risky or unnecessary drugs.
For older patients, the most commonly prescribed inappropriate medicines include proton pump inhibitors like Nexium and Prilosec, benzodiazepines like Xanax and Ativan, and tricyclic antidepressants, according to an analysis of Medicare datapublished last year. Over-the-counter products and supplements can also prove problematic.
“We spend hundreds of millions every year to bring meds to market and figure out when to start using them, and next to nothing trying to figure out when to stop them,” said Dr. Caleb Alexander, an internist and epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Yet among older people, adverse drug reactions account for one in 11 hospital admissions…