Safety Older adults

Study finds about 1 out of 3 older adults are prescribed ‘potentially inappropriate’ meds

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Buffalo, NY — More than a third of U.S. adults 65 and older are prescribed medications that should be avoided by older people because the potential side effects outweigh the benefits, say researchers at the University at Buffalo.

As our bodies age, the risk of harmful side effects from medications increases, an Oct. 22 university press states. The researchers reviewed five years’ worth of data from more than 218 million respondents to the annual Medical Expenditure Panel Survey. They found that 34.4% of the respondents 65 and older had been prescribed potentially inappropriate medications, including antidepressants, barbiturates, estrogens, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antipsychotics.

Those same participants, on average, were prescribed twice as many drugs and were nearly twice as likely to be hospitalized or visit an emergency room.

“Harm to older adults caused by potentially inappropriate medications is a major public health challenge,” said Collin Clark, lead study author and a clinical assistant professor at the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. “The average age of the U.S. population is rising, and older adults account for a disproportionate amount of prescription medications.”

The study was published online Aug. 5 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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