New guidelines for doctors have been issued by the American Geriatrics Society, in an effort to reduce the number of medications inappropriately prescribed for seniors. Published in the society's monthly journal, the paper outlines the dangers associated with "potentially inappropriate medications", citing the national cost of medication-related problems in 2000-2001 as $7.2 billion. Many of the adverse drug problems were preventable, and associated with ordering and monitoring of the medications, according to the paper.
Seniors tend to take multiple prescriptions, leaving them more vulnerable to interactions between medications. In addition, their aging physiology affects how the drugs work in their bodies.
In many cases, the guidelines strongly recommend a medication not be prescribed. For example, oral and transdermal estrogen for urinary incontinence in women is strongly recommended against, because research evidence strongly suggests it aggravates incontinence. The guidelines suggests many other medications, including certain antipsychotics, should be avoided in seniors.
The guidelines, called the "2012 AGS Beers Criteria", were developed by an interdisciplinary panel of 11 geriatric and pharmacotherapy experts. They offer guidance for doctors weighing the risks and benefits of specific drugs in their older patients.
Barbara Resnick and James Pacala. "2012 Beers Criteria." Journal of the American Geriatrics Society
April 2012. Volume 60, Issue 4, pages 612-613
The American Geriatrics Society 2012 Beers Criteria Update Expert Panel. AGS updated Beers Criteria for potentially inappropriate medication use in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 2012;60:616-631.