1 in 3 U.S. Seniors Prescribed Inappropriate Drugs

By Steven Reinberg HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, October 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) – More than a third of older Americans are prescribed drugs they may not need, according to a new study.

In fact, these patients are prescribed twice as many medications as needed and are almost twice as likely to be hospitalized or end up in the emergency room. On average, they pay more than $ 450 a year in additional healthcare costs, the researchers said.
“Inappropriate prescribing to the elderly can have a significant adverse clinical and financial impact,” said Collin Clark, clinical assistant professor at the University of Buffalo School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, in New York City.
“As the age of the US population continues to increase, the use of potentially inappropriate drugs in this population will continue to be a public health challenge,” he added.

Drugs most likely to be inappropriately prescribed included first-generation antihistamines like diphenhydramine; antipsychotics such as haloperidol, risperidone or olanzapine; benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); Proton pump inhibitors; and long-acting sulfonylureas like glyburide, said Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, chief of the division of geriatric and palliative medicine at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, NY. She did not participate in the study.
Among more than 218 million older adults who took part in a survey conducted by the US Public Health Service and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found that 34% were prescribed at least one drug. potentially inappropriate.

Carney said the patients most likely to be prescribed the wrong medication are those who think they are unhealthy, compared to others their age.

“Because patients who were prescribed potentially inappropriate medications thought their health was not as good as that of others, this may explain why they sought care and treatment,” she suggested.

Some of the factors contributing to the prescribing of potentially inappropriate drugs are the need of physicians to offer help, the demand of patients for something to help them, and the lack of physician awareness of the effects and risks of drugs on. the elderly, Carney said. “In addition, doctors are not informed or do not have access to other options to help older adult patients with their care,” she added.


These inappropriate drugs can cost more, but they are likely covered by insurance and not as costly to patients, as opposed to non-pharmacological treatments, which are often not covered by insurance, Carney noted.
When prescribing drugs, the risks and benefits must be weighed. Drugs with a good safety profile that are not long-acting should be tried first and explained to patients and their families, she said.

“As clinicians, we must first try alternative treatment options and try to minimize pharmacological interventions when and where we can do it,” Carney said.

The report was recently published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

More information

For more information on inappropriate prescriptions, consult the AARP.

SOURCES: Collin Clark, PharmD, clinical assistant professor, department of pharmacy practice, School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, University of Buffalo, New York; Maria Torroella Carney, MD, chief, division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine, Northwell Health, New Hyde Park, NY; Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, August 2020

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