Over a third of older Australians are taking more than five medications each day, prompting warnings from experts about the risks of over-prescribing.
It follows a study which reviewed evidence about inappropriate prescribing and the associated health outcomes, with some doctors suggesting the risks can sometimes outweigh the benefits.
“The more medicines you take the more likely you are to suffer from adverse events, and the older you are the more likely you are to suffer from adverse events,” Steve Morris CEO at NPS MedicineWise told 9News.
The review led by Deakin University found that inappropriate prescribing was linked to a 91 per cent increased risk of hospital admissions.
It also led to problems at home including day-to-day activities like dressing, going to the bathroom, showering and brushing teeth.
The adverse outcomes were commonly linked to sedatives for anxiety and sleeping (benzodiazepines), opioids to relieve pain and antipsychotic pills.
The drugs that would benefit patients but were not being prescribed include anti-clotting therapy for people with a history of cardiovascular disease, vitamin D and calcium supplements for those with osteoporosis.
Experts say health professionals need to be more vigilant when reviewing medicines and for patients to always question what they’re taking and to know the risks.
“Don’t stop them yourself or stop them immediately, just have that conversation with your healthcare professional,” Mr Morris said.