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Evolution of Polypharmacy in a Spanish Population (2005-2015): A Database Study


Evolution of Polypharmacy in a Spanish Population (2005-2015): A Database Study

Miguel Ángel Hernández-Rodríguez et al. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf.


Purpose: To analyze the evolution of the prevalence of polypharmacy and excessive polypharmacy in a Spanish population, and to improve the identification of patients with polypharmacy.

Methods: A descriptive, annual cross-sectional observational study was carried out.

Patients: individuals over 14 years of age included in a multiregional primary care database of the Spanish population (BIFAP).

Analysis: prescription data. Period 2005-2015.

Variables: proportion of patients with polypharmacy (simultaneous prescription of ≥5 drugs) and excessive polypharmacy (≥10 drugs) for at least 6 months, according to sex and age groups. A trend analysis of the studied period was performed (overall, and by sex and age groups).

Results: The data are reported on a comparative basis (2005 vs 2015). Number of patients analyzed: 2664743 vs 4 002 877. The prevalence of polypharmacy increased significantly (2.5% vs 8.9%, P-value for trend <0.001), being greater in females throughout the study period and in the group aged ≥80 years (P-value for trends <0.001). The prevalence of excessive polypharmacy also increased significantly (0.1% vs 1%, P-value for trend <0.001), being higher in the group aged ≥80 years (P-value for trend <0.001). The proportion of patients with no chronic treatment decreased (80.2% vs 63.1%).

Conclusions: The prevalence of polypharmacy in this Spanish population has tripled in the period 2005-2015, while excessive polypharmacy has increased 10-fold. These increments are seen in both sexes and in all age groups, particularly in individuals over 80 years of age. The proportion of patients without chronic treatments has decreased.

Keywords: Pharmacoepidemiology; Polypharmacy; drug utilization; electronic prescribing; medical records systems, computerized.

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