How Drug Use by French Elderly Patients Has Changed During the Last Decade
Huon Jean-François, Lenain Emilie, LeGuen Julien, Chatellier Gilles, Sabatier Brigitte, Saint-Jean Olivier
BACKGROUND: In France the most recent data on drug use by the elderly living at home were published in 2000. Since then the available drugs and their use have changed. OBJECTIVE: We compared data collected in 2011 with the 2000 data to evaluate how drug use has changed in France. METHODS: The study analysed retrospectively the 2011 data collected prospectively in France from a sample of 600,000 people representative (1/97th) of the French population. All prescribed drugs reimbursed by the French national health insurance were recorded. Due to the reimbursement procedure the unit of analysis was the trimester. The drugs were coded using the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) Classification System. RESULTS: Data from 580,989 patients were analysed (133,411 (23.0 %) aged ≥60 years, 32,314 (5.6 %) ≥80 years). The percentage of patients who used medication increased from 55.9 % for patients in their fourth decade to 88.6 % for patients in their eighth decade, remained stable till 90 years of age and decreased to 26.3 % in centenarians. The median number of drugs prescribed was five (IQR: 3-8) in those aged under 80 years and ten (IQR: 7-14) in those aged over 80 years. Cardiovascular drugs were the most used, by 70.9, 78.1, and 69.6 % of patients aged 70-79, 80-89, and 90-99 years, respectively. Analgesics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics were prescribed in almost half of the patients. CONCLUSION: Polypharmacy is common among the elderly in France. Although this may be explained by the multiple co-morbidities, our results suggest an overuse of drugs for which the risk-benefit ratio is unknown in these age ranges. Consequently, numerous elderly patients are exposed to iatrogenic risks without the certainty of therapeutic benefits.