Australian researchers have recently published data on an estimate of the prevalence of polypharmacy among Australians aged 70 years or more, spanning the years 2006–2017. Using data from a random 10% sample of Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) – the Australian system for subsidized supply of medications, the study tracked continuous polypharmacy (five or more unique medicines dispensed during both 1 April – 30 June and 1 October – 31 December in a calendar year) among older Australians, finding that in 2017, 36.1% of older Australians were affected by continuous polypharmacy, (an estimated 935 240 people). Rates of polypharmacy were slightly higher among women than men (36.6% v 35.4%) and highest among those aged 80–84 years (43.9%) or 85–89 years (46.0%). Comparing 2006–2017, the number of people affected increased by 52% (from 543 950 to 828 950). The researchers, led by Australian pharmacist Dr Amy Page, suggest that there is substantial evidence for potential harm and that rationalizing unnecessary medicines is very important, particularly in older people. Read more here.
Polypharmacy on the rise amongst older Australians
Jan 9, 2020