Interview with Amy Page, lead researcher, UWA Woolf says new research has revealed that about a million over the age of 70 are taking five or more medicines a day. He mentions the number has risen by nearly 50% in the decade. Page says they are not telling people to stop taking their medication, but there are risks to taking multiple meds at a time. She mentions there is an increased risk of having a fall, hospital admission and becoming frail. She notes the patient and the health professional should discuss the priorities for the patient's health. She states, sometimes there are problems with the communication between GPs and specialist but they are improving. She adds people need to have an updated list of meds they are currently on. Page says part of the reason for the increase is the rise in the number of people living with older age. She mentions their research may be a good thing as people may be treated with the necessary medication now than they were previously. She notes it may also be bad. She adds according to previous research from Dr Natali Jokanovic at Alfred Health, it may be related to people living longer with many conditions or managed by individual guidelines that each recommend multiple medications. Page says they only looked at the medicines which are subsidised by the PBS, so, they didn't capture medicines which are written with a script and are sent privately. She mentions their estimates could actually be on the low side. She notes since doctors often don't know when they're prescribing other medications, the other medicines the patient is taking, it makes it very hard to balance the potential for harm and potential for benefit. She states it's hard for the health professional to analyse the drug interactions which may occur. Woolf wonders if MyHealthRecord is helpful in this case. Page says it will be useful. She mentions NPS MedicineWise is encouraging people to question their medicationas. She notes Prof Sarah Hilmer and Dr Lisa Kouladjian
O'Donnell from the University of Sydney are leading a national strategic action plan to reduce inappropriate poly-pharmacy.
She notes professors from UWA are also developing guidelines for de-prescribing for older people.