Too many meds: Triggers and barriers to de-prescription

Clinical Brief – August 7th

The Brief

Being on more meds doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better for our health. That said, stopping a treatment (aka de-prescription) can be harder than starting a new one.


Doctor says what?

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh surveyed about 60 family doctors treating over 930 patients and found that overall, de-prescription was thought as being important, but not everyone was confident about it.

This survey found that more than 4 in 5 patients over 65 were on more than five meds. Potentially 1 in 3 patients were on an “inappropriate medication”. It’s also been reported that medication misuse and high pill burden costs the US over $177 billion each year.

Doctors were less likely to de-prescribe if their patient believed that the drug might help, they had no time, or if the meds were started by another doctor.

On the other hand, doctors were more likely to de-prescribe if patients showed symptoms of a potential side effect, cognitive impairment, or if they were not likely to benefit much from their meds.

In terms of probabilities, doctors who prescribed fewer meds were more likely to consider the benefits and risks of de-prescription and the number of meds their patients were on, vs their peers who prescribed more often.


Bottom line

Imagine if we cut this down on potentially unnecessary pills and freed up some of this resource to help more patients?

Personally, I go through the meds of my parents regularly to see if they are taking what’s likely to help them. For meds that I’m not sure about, we have a conversation before bringing it up with their doctors at their next check-up.

One thought on “Too many meds: Triggers and barriers to de-prescription

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