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Optimizing pharmacotherapy for older patients 

Optimizing pharmacotherapy for older patients
Optimizing pharmacotherapy for older patients

Denis O’Mahony

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date: 21 May 2022

The prevalence of complex multimorbidity is increasing steadily in tandem with global population ageing. Complex multimorbidity is in turn intimately associated with polypharmacy, the relationship being one of cause-and-effect. Polypharmacy commonly leads to prescription of inappropriate drugs, resulting in a substantially higher risk of drug-related problems, principally adverse drug–drug and drug–disease interactions. These problems become manifest in the form of common geriatric symptoms such as falls, acute confusion, and incontinence and commonly result in increased healthcare utilization, including hospitalization, with obvious economic consequences. In addition, adverse drug reactions and adverse drug events lead to death in older people.

The challenge of optimization of pharmacotherapy in older people with complex multimorbidity is a major one. There is increasing evidence that avoidance of potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) and potential prescribing omissions (PPOs) using validated PIM and PPO criteria lists leads to better and safer pharmacotherapy in this high-risk population.

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