Editors’ Picks 2015: Part Seven

Polypharmacy and potentially inappropriate prescription of medicines

P7

This week we have been looking at some of our staff editors’ favourite articles from 2015. These papers have covered a variety of important issues in medical research, from the transparency of clinical trials to the publication of negative findings. Our final editors’ pick takes us to Ireland, where Professor Tom Fahey and colleagues from the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin looked at pharmacy claims data to investigate long-term trends in prescribing of medicines between 1997 and 2012. Their findings included the positive news that prescribing quality had improved across the time period. However, there was a substantial increase in the number of people taking multiple regular medicines (known as ‘polypharmacy’), and this significantly predicted potentially inappropriate prescription of medicines. The authors suggested that patients should be made more aware of the trade-off between taking more medicines to prevent disease and the potential for harm from potentially inappropriate prescribing of drugs, which is associated with taking more medicines.