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Patient Page on Polypharmacy and Deprescribing

“Deprescribing is the medically supervised process of decreasing or stopping medications that are no longer needed or may be causing harm,” advises a JAMA Patient Page. “The benefits and risks of medications can change as people get older, so medications that have been taken for many years may need to be adjusted or even stopped. Sometimes an alternative medication that is safer or a nonmedication lifestyle change may be recommended to manage a health condition.”

The page explains the possible consequences of polypharmacy and how they can be decreased. “A doctor or pharmacist should advise patients how to stop a medication, including whether it needs to be slowly tapered off, and discuss symptoms that may develop after stopping medications,” the authors write. “Deprescribing can benefit patients by decreasing medication side effects and drug-drug interactions, reducing nonadherence to medications, lowering out-of-pocket costs, and improving health. Medications that have been stopped should be safely disposed of and not restarted without first talking to a doctor or pharmacist.”

Source: JAMA