Being MedsAware: Ask because you care

The MedsAware campaign is back, with MedsAware 2024: Deprescribing Action Week kicking off today. This year’s theme ‘ask because you Care’ seeks to empower older Australians, Australians living with a disability, and their careers, to ask health professionals” “could any of these medicines be doing more harm than good?”

Running until 24 March MedsAware 2024 is led by the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) with support from the Australian Deprescribing Network (ADeN), Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the Australian Medical Association (AMA), COTA Australia, the Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA) Research Team, the Council of Australian Therapeutic Advisory Groups (CATAG) and the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) – MedsAware will this year highlight the inappropriate use of psychotropic medicine that are often overused to control challenging behaviours in older people and those living with a disability.

SHPA President Tom Simpson says ‘polypharmacy’ and ‘inappropriate medicine use’ is a barrier to ensuring the safe and quality use of medicines in aged care and disability settings.

“Several studies have demonstrated that challenging behaviours, particularly those seen in patients with dementia, are too often addressed by starting psychotropic medicines without first attempting to use evidence-based non-pharmacological interventions.

“It has been estimated that only 10 per cent of antipsychotic medications and benzodiazepines – a class of psychotropic medicines – used in residential aged care are clinically justified, while an Australian study of adults with intellectual disability showed 82 per cent were inappropriately prescribed psychotropic medicines.

“And we know that every year, 250,000 Australians are admitted to hospital due to medication-related issues, many of which are preventable.

 “As medicines experts, pharmacists are well placed to detect and help prevent inappropriate use of high-risk medicines such as psychotropics that are widespread in aged care and disability facilities.

“We are proud to continue to lead the MedsAware campaign and work with our partners to embed deprescribing as a central principle of safe health care, to reduce the risks associated with polypharmacy, hyperpolypharmacy and inappropriate medicine use to ensure more Australians stay out of hospital.

“With the world’s first published use of ‘deprescribing’ used in our flagship Journal of Pharmacy Practice and Research (JPPR) more than 20 years ago, deprescribing is very much in the DNA of SHPA.”

FIP CEO Dr Catherine Duggan says it’s never been a more important time to promote the significance of deprescribing and polypharmacy.

“An important aspect of medication safety is ensuring that patients do not continue to take medicines after they’re no longer required and that the benefits of taking any medicine outweighs the risks. This is a fundamental role of pharmacists as the experts in medicines.”

“FIP fully supports the SHPA MedsAware campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of appropriate deprescribing, particularly in cases of polypharmacy. As our older populations grow, this facet of pharmaceutical care will become even more significant.”

MedsAware Deprescribing Action Week will run from 18-24 March 2024.



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