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August 9/23, 2004

The Time to Act Is Now

Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(15):1603-1604. doi:10.1001/archinte.164.15.1603

The article, "Inappropriate Prescribing for Elderly Americans in a Large Outpatient Population," by Curtis et al,1 bespeaks a significant failure in the American health care system. Using a 1999 claims database of over three quarters of a million elderly subjects from a national pharmaceutical benefit manager, they report that 21% of this population filled a prescription for a drug deemed to be potentially inappropriate for this age group by an expert panel. Although the drugs included on such a list may vary depending on the views of the members of the panel, if even half that number of elderly subjects are taking potentially inappropriate medications, 1 in 10 of all older persons is receiving a drug that is potentially not appropriate. Similar studies date back at least 10 years with similar results, and little or nothing has been done to address the problem.2,3