Too Much Medicine May be Bad for You

If you’re taking a number of medicines for a single condition, you have a greater chance of being hospitalized than people who are taking multiple medicines for multiple conditions.



A study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology analyzed “polypharmacy,” a situation in which patients diagnosed with multiple conditions are being treated with multiple medicines.



The researchers said that their findings contradicted the usual belief about polypharmacy.



"The commonly-held assumption that polypharmacy is always hazardous and represents poor care is misleading. Our work shows that we need more sophisticated approaches to assessing the appropriateness of each patient's set of medicines," says lead author Dr Rupert Payne who works at the Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research.



Payne and his colleagues analyzed National Health Service data for 180,815 adults with long-term conditions. They looked  at how many medicines each patient was taking and compared the figures with statistics on whether the person was hospitalized in the following year.



People who used  ten or more medications for one condition were three times likelier to be hospitalized than those who took only one to three medicines for a singe condition. Patients who had six or more medical conditions and took ten or more medicine were only 1.5 times likelier to be admitted than the group that took one to three medicines for a single condition.



 Payne said previous studies have missed the different effects that polypharmacy has on patients. He called for a more nuanced approach in future clinical studies.  



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