02 Sep 2014 Therapeutics Letter #90: Reducing polypharmacy: A logical approach
In the latest Therapeutics Letter (#90 – Jun-Jul 2014), UBC’s Therapeutics Initiative urges physicians to take every opportunity to prune the number of drugs their patients are taking, so as to minimize harmful reactions and save money for both the patient and society. The TI is urging physicians to adopt a “common sense” and “Golden Rule” approach when prescribing drugs, to minimize “polypharmacy” — the use of multiple drugs simultaneously.
“Rational prescribing requires restraint and wisdom in initiating chronic drug therapy, but also fundamental change in our philosophy of medicinal care,” says the Therapeutics Letter, which is sent to prescribing physicians and pharmacists throughout British Columbia.
The TI notes that B.C. has the lowest average per capita drug costs in Canada, due mostly to lower consumption of multiple drug classes.
“However, there is ample room to improve,” the letter states.
The TI calls on physicians to routinely challenge complex medication regimes, and to lean towards simplification when it can improve patients’ health. It then provides seven steps that doctors, pharmacists, nurses, patients and their families can use to help in “deprescribing”.