Predicting and detecting adverse drug reactions in old age: challenges and opportunities

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    25 Citations (Scopus)


    Increased, often inappropriate, drug exposure, pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic changes, reduced homeostatic reserve and frailty increase the risk of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in the older population, thereby imposing a significant public health burden. Predicting and diagnosing ADRs in old age presents significant challenges for the clinician, even when specific risk scoring systems are available. The picture is further compounded by the potential adverse impact of several drugs on more 'global' health indicators, for example, physical function and independence, and the fragmentation of care (e.g., increased number of treating doctors and care transitions) experienced by older patients during their clinical journey. The current knowledge of drug safety in old age is also curtailed by the lack of efficacy and safety data from pre-marketing studies. Moreover, little consideration is given to individual patients' experiences and reporting of specific ADRs, particularly in the presence of cognitive impairment. Pending additional data on these issues, the close review and monitoring of individual patients' drug prescribing, clinical status and biochemical parameters remain essential to predict and detect ADRs in old age. Recently developed strategies, for example, medication reconciliation and trigger tool methodology, have the potential for ADRs risk mitigation in this population. However, more information is required on their efficacy and applicability in different healthcare settings.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)527-530
    Number of pages4
    JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Metabolism and Toxicology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2012


    • adverse drug reactions
    • drug safety
    • monitoring
    • older patients
    • outcomes


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