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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 67-73

Polypharmacy and potentially inappropriate medication use in older Indian patients with cancer: A prospective observational study

1 Department of Medical Oncology, Tata Memorial Center, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Clinical Pharmacology, ACTREC, Tata Memorial Center, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Kumar Prabhash
Professor and Head, Department of Medical Oncology, Tata Memorial Hospital, Parel, Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai - 400 012
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/crst.crst_50_21

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Background: Polypharmacy and the use of potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) are important issues in older patients with cancer. Objectives: We aimed to study the prevalence of polypharmacy, and the use of PIMs, including the peri-chemotherapy supportive care regimens in older Indian patients with cancer. Materials and Methods: This was an analysis of a prospective observational study of patients aged 60 years and over with a diagnosis of malignancy who were assessed in the geriatric oncology clinic at the Tata Memorial Hospital (Mumbai, India). Patients on five or more medications were considered to have polypharmacy; excessive polypharmacy was defined as ten or more medications and PIMs were defined and categorized according to the Beers criteria. Results: Between June 2018 and October 2020, 285 patients were enrolled in the study. Polypharmacy was noted in 55% of the patients and excessive polypharmacy in 13%. Polypharmacy was noted in 70% of the patients with lung cancer, compared to 45% for other malignancies, P < 0.001. Unindicated medications such as vitamins and calcium were being taken by 20% of the patients and 23% were taking alternative medications (ayurvedic/homeopathic/naturopathic). Eighty percent of the patients were taking PIMs, commonly proton-pump inhibitors (33%) and tramadol (30%). The median number of PIMs was 2 (interquartile range, 1–2). Of the peri-chemotherapy supportive care medications, 53% were potentially inappropriate, commonly intravenous antihistamines in 39%, histamine H2 blockers in 15%, and steroids in 12%. Conclusions: Polypharmacy and PIM use are common problems in older Indian patients with cancer. Recognizing the problem and taking steps to ensure safe medication prescription practices should be a priority.

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