Polypharmacy Rates among Patients over 45 years

Polypharmacy, defined as receipt of ≥5 medications in any one month, is often associated with potentially inappropriate prescribing and adverse drug interactions. High levels of polypharmacy have been observed internationally and in Ireland. The Health Service Executive Primary Care Reimbursement Services (HSE-PCRS) pharmacy claims database for the GMS eligible population was used. We conducted Chi-square tests to determine the statistical significance of perceived differences in medication use among patients aged ³ 45 years. Our results establish a national benchmark for polypharmacy in gender and various age categories in the HSE-PCRS. Of the 794,628 individuals aged ≥45 years with at least one claim in 2013, 64.3% (510,946) had polypharmacy, with higher rates among women (67.0% - 293,886 - compared to 60.8% of men - 216,444). Patients aged 45-54 years were less likely to have polypharmacy (38.6% - 69,934) compared to those aged 75 years old (82.6% - 197,565). The high levels of polypharmacy are of interest, and suggest that monitoring and evaluation of patients’ medication regimes may be required to ensure appropriateness.