New Study Finds Harmful Drug-drug and Drug-disease Interactions Among the Elderly

A new Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ) study found that elderly patients were prescribed at least one medication that could have caused a harmful drug-disease interaction in more than 2.5 percent of outpatient visits. The likelihood that a patient was prescribed a medication that had the potential for a harmful drug-drug interaction was slightly less than 1 percent in visits that involved two or more prescriptions. Using data from 1995 to 2000, researchers assessed the likelihood that a patient would receive a prescription for a medication that could have a harmful drug-drug or drug-disease interaction. They studied six drug-drug and 50 drug-disease combinations considered to be harmful to the elderly. The study, “Suboptimal Prescribing in Elderly Outpatients: Potentially Harmful Drug-Drug and Drug-Disease Combinations,” was published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.