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April 23, 2007

Measuring Drug BurdenA Step Forward

Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(8):753-754. doi:10.1001/archinte.167.8.753

As the number of medications taken by older adults continues to rise,1 patients and physicians have voiced concerns about the overall effect of multiple medication use. Although there is little doubt about the benefits of individual medications for the treatment of specific chronic conditions or health symptoms, there is much less certainty regarding the benefits and harms of multiple medications taken together.2 The prescription of multiple medications in older adults raises several complex issues. Lower rates of adherence, increased drug costs, greater risk for adverse effects, and uncertain benefits in older adults with multiple chronic conditions each contribute to the potential disadvantages of multiple medication prescribing. Furthermore, widely cited reports on medication-related patient safety issues have grabbed the attention of both patients and physicians.3

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