The study highlights the rise in adverse drug reactions

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In a study published in BMJ Openresearchers from the University of Liverpool have found a growing trend in drug-related harm that leads to hospitalisation.

This trend is due to the rising tide of multiple long-term health conditions (so-called multimorbidity) associated with the use of several medications at the same time (so-called polypharmacy).

This prospective observational study, led by researchers from the University of Liverpool and Bangor University, was carried out at University Hospitals Liverpool NHS Foundation Trust. This involved two doctors reviewing the medical records of 1,187 medical appointments during one month in 2019.

This changed the original research published by Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed and colleagues from BMJ in 2004. At that time, it was found that 6.5% of hospitalizations were associated with adverse drug reactions (ADR). This updated figure shows a significant increase in this burden, which has risen to 16.5% of admissions caused or complicated by an adverse drug reaction.

Polypharmacy is usually defined as taking five or more common medications. The researchers determined that those who suffered adverse reactions were, on average, taking more medications and had more comorbidities than people without adverse reactions.

Polypharmacy can become difficult for patients, especially when it occurs in the context of overprescribing, that is, when people are given drugs that they do not need or need, or that may harm them. Over the counter prescriptions have increased dramatically over the past 25 years. This was highlighted in a recent NHS report on overprescribing, which claimed that 10% of prescriptions (around 110 million) should not have been written.

This updated research confirms that the problem is growing and that a system-wide approach is needed to address the societal, systemic, and cultural causes of overprescribing.

Rostam Asanlov, registrar specialist v clinical pharmacologysaid: “Our work shows that adverse drug reactions place a significant burden on patients and hospital admissions. This is associated with high costs to the NHS (over £2 billion per year) and further efforts in this area could both improve patient care and save money for the NHS.”

Dr Lauren Walker, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Liverpool, said: “It is important that patients report any side effects to medicines to the MHRA through the yellow card system. It is important for patients to discuss any side effects with their healthcare provider and they should not stop taking their medicines own desire”.

Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, David Wetherall Chair of Medicine, said: “Our updated analysis highlights the continuing burden placed on patients and the NHS by adverse drug reactions. There is no single, simple solution to prevent this and so a multi-layered an approach ranging from learning to improve appointments to the use of technology. This would be in line with the aims of the NHS’s long-term plan.”

The researchers’ analysis shows that the annual costs of ADR cause hospital the reception is at least £2 billion. A concerted national effort, beyond that described in the NHS report on overprescribing, is needed to improve the benefit-risk balance of prescribed medicines and thereby reduce the burden of adverse reactions on patients and health services.


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Additional information:
Rostam Osanlu et al., Adverse drug reactions, multimorbidity, and polypharmacy: a prospective analysis of 1 month of medical treatment, BMJ Open (2022). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-055551

Citation: Study highlights rise in adverse drug reactions (2022, July 5) Retrieved July 5, 2022, from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-07-highlights-tide-adverse-drug-reactions.html

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