Background: There has been a rapid increase in vulnerable subpopulations of very old with co-morbidity, dementia, frailty, and limited life expectancy. Being treated by many specialists has led to an epidemic of inappropriate medication use and polypharmacy (IMUP) with negative medical and economic consequences. For most medications there are no evidence-based studies in older people and treatments are based on guidelines proven in much younger/healthier populations.
Objectives: To evaluate whether the benefits of reducing IMUP by poly-de-prescribing (PDP) outweighs the negative outcomes in older people with polypharmacy.
Methods: The Garfinkel method and algorithm were used in older people with polypharmacy (≥ 6 prescription drugs).
Results: We found that in nursing departments, of 331 drugs de-prescribed only 32 (10%) had to be re-administered. Annual mortality and severe complications requiring referral to acute care facility were significantly reduced in PDP (P < 0.002). In community dwelling older people, successful de-prescribing was achieved in 81% with no increase in adverse events or deaths. Those who de-prescribed ≥ 3 prescription drugs showed significantly more improvement in functional and cognitive status, sleep quality, appetite, serious complications, quality of life, and general satisfaction compared to controls who stopped ≤ 2 medications (P < 0.002). Rates of hospitalization and mortality were comparable. Clinical improvement by polydeprescribing was usually evident within 3 months and persisted for several years. The main barrier to polydeprescribing was physician’s unwillingness to deprescribe (P < 0.0001)
Conclusions: Applying the Garfinkel method of PDP may improve the lives of older people and save money.