“Despite many previous studies, we are only beginning to understand the phenomenon of inappropriate prescribing,” say researchers who used a retrospective national Veterans Administration database analysis.
They found that about one third of elderly veterans may have been exposed to potentially inappropriate drugs. The availability of a comprehensive national data source, the investigators say, allowed a closer examination of a problem that has been often discussed but not yet solved.
The study relied on a list of 11 drugs that should always be avoided, eight drugs that are indicated on rare occasions, and 14 drugs that have some indications but that are often misused. An expert panel at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) developed the list.
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The bulk of inappropriately prescribed drugs consisted of pain relievers, benzo-diazepines, antidepressants, and musculo-skeletal agents. Caucasian patients, patients with psychiatric comorbidities, and patients taking more than one prescribed drug were the ones most likely to receive inappropriate drugs.