Polypharmacy in an Elderly Population: Enhancing Medication Management Through the Use of Clinical Decision Support Software Platforms

Neurol Ther. 2019 Jun;8(1):79-94. doi: 10.1007/s40120-019-0131-6. Epub 2019 Mar 21.


Introduction: Polypharmacy is a growing problem in the United States. The use of multiple medications increases the likelihood that a patient will experience potential drug interactions and adverse drug reactions (ADRs). Those individuals with dementia or Alzheimer's disease (AD) are at greater risk, due to age, comorbidities, and an increased likelihood of being on a greater number of neuroactive medications.

Methods: uMETHOD Health (uMH) has developed a precision medicine platform to address dementia and mild AD through the creation of personalized, multidomain treatment plans. Many interactions and ADRs may be observed, such as drug-drug interactions (DDIs), drug-gene interactions (DGIs), anticholinergic cognitive burden (ACB), and depression-inducing drugs (DIDs). uMH's algorithms can parse these interactions, rate them based on input from open-source databases, and then record all these interactions in a generated treatment plan. A total of 295 individuals aged 65 and older were included in this analysis.

Results: Of 295 individuals, 97.59% were on at least one medication, with an overall mean of 11.5 medications per person; 83.66% were on five or more medications. A total of 102 DGIs, 3642 DDIs, and one high-priority DDI were found in this population. There was a significant increase in the number of DDIs as medications per person increased (P value < 0.0001). Of the population, 65.86% were on one or more anticholinergic drugs. There was a significant difference in the ACB score between individuals with cognitive decline and those without. In total, 60.98% of the overall population were on DIDs, with a mean of 1.19 medications per person.

Conclusions: The results of this work show that older populations have a high medication burden. With the growing elderly and AD populations, medication management for polypharmacy is a need that grows direr every year. uMH's platform was able to identify a multitude of polypharmacy problems that individuals are currently facing.

Funding: uMETHOD Health.

Keywords: Anticholinergic drugs; Depression-inducing drugs; Drug–drug interactions; Drug–genome interactions; Machine learning; Polypharmacy.