Study: Seniors prescribed inappropriate medication 20% of the time

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Seniors are often prescribed medications that are inappropriate and may be harmful to them, according to a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Researchers analyzed 765,423 outpatient prescription claims of a large, national pharmaceutical benefit manager. The patients, 65 or older, were not necessarily long-term care patients.

More than 20% of those who filled a prescription in 1999 did so for a drug on the "Beers list" of medications. The "Beers list" is a precautionary list that is not suited for seniors. Of those, 44% filled a prescription for a potentially harmful medication, and 41% filled a prescription for a psychotropic drug, most commonly an antidepressant.

The study's authors said their findings "should serve as a reminder to monitor" potentially inappropriate medications.