International Group for Reducing Inappropriate Medication Use & Polypharmacy (IGRIMUP): Position Statement and 10 Recommendations for Action
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Globally, the number of drug prescriptions is increasing causing more adverse drug events, which is now a significant cause of mortality, morbidity, and disability that has reached epidemic proportions. The risk of adverse drug events is correlated to very old age, multiple co-morbidities, dementia, frailty, and limited life expectancy, with the major contributor being polypharmacy. Each characteristic alters the risk-benefit balance of medications, typically reducing anticipated benefits and amplifying risk. Current clinical guidelines are based on evidence proven in younger/healthier adult populations using a single disease model and their application to older adults with multimorbidity, in whom testing has not been conducted, yields a different risk-benefit prospect and makes inappropriate medication use and polypharmacy inevitable. Applying inappropriate clinical practice guidelines to older adults is antithetical to good healthcare, is likely to increase health inequity, and is associated with substantial negative clinical, economic, and social implications for health systems. The casualties are on the scale of a war or epidemic, yet are usually invisible in measures of healthcare quality and formal recommendations. Radical and rapid action is required to achieve a better quality of life for older populations and to remain true to the principles of medical professionalism and evidence-based medicine that place patients' interests and autonomy at the fore. This first International Group for Reducing Inappropriate Medication Use & Polypharmacy position statement briefly details the causes, consequences, and extent of inappropriate medication use and polypharmacy. This article outlines current strategies to reduce inappropriate medication use, provides evidence for their effect, and then proposes recommendations for moving forward with 10 recommendations for action and 12 recommendations for research. We conclude that an urgent integrated effort to reduce inappropriate medication use and polypharmacy should be a leading global target of the highest priority. The cornerstone of this position statement from the International Group for Reducing Inappropriate Medication Use & Polypharmacy is the understanding that without evidence of definite relevant benefit, when it comes to prescribing, for many older patients 'less is more'. This approach differs from most other current recommendations and guidance in medical care, as the focus is on what, when, and how to stop, rather than on when to start medications/interventions. Disrupting the framework that indiscriminately applies standard guidelines to older adults requires a new approach that better serves patients with multimorbidity. This transition requires a shift in medical education, research, and diagnostic frameworks, and re-examination of the measures used as quality indicators. In achieving this objective, we promote a return to some of the original concepts of evidence-based medicine: which considers scientific data (where it exists), clinical judgment, patient/family preference, and context. A shift is needed: from the current model that focuses on single conditions to one that simultaneously considers multiple conditions and patient priorities. This approach reframes the clinician's role as a professional providing care, rather than a disease technician.
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