The King's Fund

Polypharmacy and medicines optimisation: Making it safe and sound

  • Format: Printed copy
  • Publication date: 28 Nov 2013
  • Authors: Martin Duerden, Tony Avery, Rupert Payne

Polypharmacy – the concurrent use of multiple medications by one individual – is an increasingly common phenomenon that demands attention at clinical policy and practice level. Driven by the growth of an ageing population and the rising prevalence of multi-morbidity, polypharmacy has previously been considered something to avoid. It is now recognised as having both positive and negative potential, depending on how medicines and care are managed.

This report proposes a pragmatic approach, offering the terms ‘appropriate’ and ‘problematic’ polypharmacy to help define when polypharmacy can be beneficial.