Let's Talk About POLYPHARMACY
October marks the 31st Talk About Your Medicines Month, an annual opportunity to focus attention on the value that enhanced provider-patient communication about medicines can play in promoting safe and appropriate medicine use and improved health outcomes. Of course, communication is a two-way street. Consumers benefit from being proactive in asking questions and seeking information about their medicines; and healthcare providers in turn must be able to share medical information in a meaningful way that their patients are able to understand and act on. Visit Talk About Your Medicines Month to access tools and resources to stimulate conversations focused on Talk About Your Medicines Month’s 2016 theme, Managing Polypharmacy - the concurrent use of a large number of prescription medicines, over- the-counter (OTC) medicines, vitamins and dietary supplements (generally 5 or more) by the same person, at the same time. Polypharmacy can result in confusing medication regimens and schedules, and a concerning accumulation of side effects (“adverse drug events”) or harmful drug interactions.
According to a recent study in JAMA, more than one-third of individuals aged 62–85 years took at least five prescription medications, while nearly two-thirds used dietary supplements and almost 40% used OTC drugs. The researchers calculated that more than 8% of older adults were at risk for a major drug interaction in 2005 and 2006, but that number nearly doubled to about 15% just five years later. While certainly many medications are key to treating underlying health conditions and maintaining good health, safely and effectively managing multiple medication regimens is key.
Visit Talk About Your Medicines Month for tips for patients and providers to prevent and manage polypharmacy and for a “Are you at risk for harm by polypharmacy?” checklist.
Source: NCPIE, 2016