Deprescribing antihyperglycemic agents in older persons: Evidence-based clinical practice guideline

Can Fam Physician. 2017 Nov;63(11):832-843.


Objective: To develop an evidence-based guideline to help clinicians make decisions about when and how to safely taper, stop, or switch antihyperglycemic agents in older adults.

Methods: We focused on the highest level of evidence available and sought input from primary care professionals in guideline development, review, and endorsement processes. Seven clinicians (2 family physicians, 3 pharmacists, 1 nurse practitioner, and 1 endocrinologist) and a methodologist comprised the overall team; members disclosed conflicts of interest. We used a rigorous process, including the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) approach, for guideline development. We conducted a systematic review to assess evidence for the benefits and harms of deprescribing antihyperglycemic agents. We performed a review of reviews of the harms of continued antihyperglycemic medication use, and narrative syntheses of patient preferences and resource implications. We used these syntheses and GRADE quality-of-evidence ratings to generate recommendations. The team refined guideline content and recommendation wording through consensus and synthesized clinical considerations to address common front-line clinician questions. The draft guideline was distributed to clinicians and stakeholders for review and revisions were made at each stage. A decision-support algorithm was developed to accompany the guideline.

Recommendations: We recommend deprescribing antihyperglycemic medications known to contribute to hypoglycemia in older adults at risk or in situations where antihyperglycemic medications might be causing other adverse effects, and individualizing targets and deprescribing accordingly for those who are frail, have dementia, or have a limited life expectancy.

Conclusion: This guideline provides practical recommendations for making decisions about deprescribing antihyperglycemic agents. Recommendations are meant to assist with, not dictate, decision making in conjunction with patients.

Publication types

  • Practice Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Consensus
  • Dementia / complications
  • Deprescriptions*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / standards*
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / drug therapy
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Primary Health Care / standards*


  • Hypoglycemic Agents