A survey on polypharmacy and use of inappropriate medications

Toxicol Int. 2012 Jan;19(1):68-73. doi: 10.4103/0971-6580.94506.


In the past, polypharmacy was referred to the mixing of many drugs in one prescription. Today polypharmacy implies to the prescription of too many medications for an individual patient, with an associated higher risk of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and interactions. Situations certainly exist where the combination therapy or polytherapy is the used for single disease condition. Polypharmacy is a problem of substantial importance, in terms of both direct medication costs and indirect medication costs resulting from drug-related morbidity. Polypharmacy increases the risk of side effects and interactions. Moreover it is a preventable problem. A retrospective study was carried out at Bhopal district (Capital of Madhya Pradesh, India) in the year of September-November 2009 by collecting prescriptions of consultants at various levels of health care. The tendency of polypharmacy was studied and analyzed under the various heads in the survey. Available data suggests that polypharmacy is a widespread problem, and physician, clinical pharmacists and patients are all responsible. These risks can be minimized through identifying the prevalence of this potential problem in a high-risk population and by increasing awareness among patients and healthcare professionals. Physicians and clinical pharmacists have the potential to combating this problem through a variety of interventions such as reducing the number of medications taken, reducing the number of doses taken, increasing patient adherence, preventing ADRs, improving patient quality of life and decreasing facility and drug costs.

Keywords: Adverse drug reactions; clinical survey; inappropriate medication; polypharmacy; preventions.