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Researchers Develop a Comprehensive List of Potentially Inappropriate Medicines in Australia

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Mason Walker
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Researchers Develop a Comprehensive List of Potentially Inappropriate Medicines in Australia

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In a significant development in the Australian healthcare system, researchers have developed a first-of-its-kind list of 16 potentially dangerous medications and their safer alternatives. Known as Potentially Inappropriate Medicines (PIMs), these medications carry high risks of severe adverse effects, drug interactions, increased risk of falls, and even death. This study, spearheaded by Dr. Kate Wang, underscores the importance of recognizing medications with a higher risk of negative clinical outcomes, particularly for older individuals who often require multiple medications to manage their health conditions.

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A Multidisciplinary Approach

The study draws on the expertise of a multidisciplinary panel, bringing together 33 clinicians and researchers with proficiency in geriatrics, general medicine, pharmacy, clinical pharmacology, general practice, and epidemiology. The panel considered a total of 130 medications or medication classes, identifying 16 as potentially inappropriate for older people under specific conditions. This list includes common medications such as ibuprofen, lorazepam, and codeine, some of which can be replaced by safer alternatives like paracetamol.

Updating the Existing PIMs List

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The existing PIMs list in Australia that was developed 15 years ago was in need of a significant update due to changes in the medications available in the country. The researchers utilized the Delphi technique - a structured method of consensus-building - to update the list. The new list of 19 medicines or medicine classes is intended to guide clinicians in assessing medication appropriateness in older people in Australian clinical settings.

Importance of Individualized Medication Reviews

While the medications on this list provide clinical benefits if used appropriately, the study stresses the importance of individualized medication reviews, especially for older people. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) experts also highlight the need for evidence-based non-drug therapies and strategies for older patients. Medication-related adverse effects contribute to 20% of unplanned hospital admissions, half of which are potentially preventable, making individualized patient assessment critical.

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Implications for Healthcare Practitioners and Patients

This updated list of PIMs and their safer alternatives is designed to serve as a tool for healthcare practitioners, researchers, policymakers, consumers, and family members. By providing safer alternative medicines, the list aims to improve medication management and safety for older people, who are at a high risk of medication-related harms.

Next Steps

Following the development of this list, the researchers are now assessing the prevalence of PIM use in Australia. This research is expected to provide valuable insights into medication safety for older people and guide future interventions to prevent medication-related harm.

In conclusion, the development of this Australian-first list of potentially inappropriate medicines is a major step forward in ensuring medication safety for older people. It underscores the importance of regular, individualized medication reviews and the need for safer alternatives to potentially dangerous medications.

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