Prevalence and risk of potential cytochrome P450-mediated drug-drug interactions in older hospitalized patients with polypharmacy

Ann Pharmacother. 2013 Mar;47(3):324-32. doi: 10.1345/aph.1R621. Epub 2013 Mar 12.


Background: As rates of polypharmacy rise and medication regimens become more complex, the risk of potential cytochrome P450 (CYP)-mediated drug-drug interactions (DDIs) is a growing clinical concern for older adults.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of potential CYP-mediated DDIs in older hospitalized adults with polypharmacy and analyze the relationship between the number of drugs dispensed and the probability of these interactions in this high-risk population.

Methods: A prospective 16-week cohort study was conducted among consecutive new patients aged 65 years and older with polypharmacy (>5 drugs) admitted to a community hospital. The medication profiles of these patients were analyzed with a new multidrug cytochrome-specific software program. The prevalence of potential CYP-mediated DDIs was determined, with the probability calculated as a function of the number of medications dispensed using multivariate Poisson regression adjusted for age and sex. Comparative performance of the software program and a standard 2-drug alert program for detecting these DDIs was evaluated using the Wilcoxon-Mann-Whitney rank-sum test. Pharmacists' decisions to recommend medication adjustment based on the probability of CYP-mediated DDIs were recorded.

Results: The prevalence of potential CYP-mediated DDIs detected among 275 older adults with polypharmacy was 80%. The probability of at least 1 CYP-mediated DDI was 50% for persons taking 5-9 drugs, 81% with 10-14 drugs, 92% with 15-19 drugs, and 100% with 20 or more drugs. Addition of each medication to a 5-drug regimen conferred a 12% increased risk of a potential CYP-mediated DDI after adjustment for age and sex (OR 1.12; 95% CI 1.09-1.14). The multidrug software identified a median increase of 3 (95% CI 2.5-3.5) potential CYP-mediated DDIs per patient, compared to use of the standard 2-drug alert software. Pharmacists targeted patients for medication adjustment or close clinical monitoring in 23% of cases.

Conclusions: The prevalence of potential CYP-mediated DDIs is high in geriatric patients with polypharmacy. The risk of DDIs increases as a function of the number of medications dispensed. Pharmacists' decision to intervene for potential CYP-mediated DDIs depends on clinical judgment in addition to the output from drug alert software programs, but may be facilitated by a single multicomponent, multidrug potential CYP-mediated DDI assessment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System / metabolism*
  • Drug Interactions*
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Hospitals, Community / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Polypharmacy*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk


  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System