Prescribing of inappropriate medications for elderly patients appears relatively common, according to an article in the August 9/23 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
According to information in the article, while people 65 years or older make up less than 15% of the population, they account for nearly one-third of prescription drug users. Elderly persons are also more likely to take several drugs concurrently, the article stated.
Lesley H. Curtis, PhD, of Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, and colleagues investigated the extent of potentially inappropriate medication prescribing for elderly patients not in the hospital. Inappropriate medications were identified according to criteria set by physicians and pharmacologists, as defined by a list of drugs to be avoided in the elderly known as the Beers revised list of drugs.
The researchers studied a large national pharmaceutical benefit company's outpatient claims database, which included 765,423 patients aged 65 or older who filed one or more prescription drug claim during 1999. They found that 162,370 patients (21%) filled a prescription for one or more drugs of concern (medications that should be avoided in elderly patients or which are inappropriate for use in elderly patients).