Simplified medication regimens for older adults during the pandemic can reduce the risk of drug-related harm, according to an international group of pharmacologists. 

Managing medication use in older adults with multimorbidity and polypharmacy is a particular challenge at this time, the group writes in a recent editorial. Medication errors and medication-related problems are more likely and can lead to significant negative health consequences. But clinicians can take steps to Increase vigilance and prevent errors, the researchers propose. 

Simplified drug routines can help to achieve that goal by reducing infection risk. This may also reduce the need for personal protective equipment by healthcare workers administering medications, the authors suggest. 

In palliative patients for example, the authors recommend deprescribing medications where the time-to-benefit is discordant with comfort care, such as with aspirin and statins. This consideration also extends to COVID-19 patients nearing the end of life, writes Nagham Ailabouni, BPharm, Ph.D., from the University of South Australia, and colleagues.

The authors also advocate for ensuring that older adults have accurate and up-to-date medication lists. This can help to ease scenarios related to COVID-19 such unplanned hospital transitions, they explain. Clinicians should work to keep continuity of services such as medication reviews — via telehealth if needed — before, during and after a COVID-19 diagnosis. 

Along with simplified medication regimens, the recommendations focus on reducing the risk of adverse drug events such as falls and delirium, responding to supply shortages and managing drugs in clinical trials participants.

The paper can be downloaded from the The Journals of Gerontology: Series A.