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The Risk of Adverse Drug Reactions in Older Patients: Beyond Drug Metabolism

[ Vol. 12 , Issue. 7 ]


Graziano Onder, Fabrizia Lattanzio, Miriam Battaglia, Francesco Cerullo, Roberta Sportiello, Roberto Bernabei and Francesco Landi   Pages 647 - 651 ( 5 )


Changes in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, associated with increasing age, are often considered the only culprits of increasing Adverse Drug Reactions (ADR) rate observed in older adults, but other factors may be responsible for a reduction in drug efficacy and increase the risk of iatrogenic illness in this population. The aging process is characterized by a high level of complexity, which makes the care of older adults and the use of medications a challenging task. In particular, comorbidity, geriatric syndromes, cognitive and functional deficits, limited life expectancy are typical conditions observed in older adults which may reduce the efficacy of prescribed drugs and increase the risk of iatrogenic illness. As a consequence, a comprehensive assessment and management of the health care problems, with the goal of recognizing and preventing potential drug-related problems and improve quality of prescribing is necessary to reduce the risk of ADR. Several studies have assessed the effect of a comprehensive geriatric assessment and management on drug prescribing and drug related illness, showing a substantial improvement in quality of prescription and a reduction in rate of ADR. In addition, clinical guidelines providing recommendations regarding the use of drugs in chronic disease rarely assess the level of complexity observed in older adults and therefore they should be applied with caution in this population.


Adverse drug reactions, older adults, geriatric evaluation and management, comorbidity, disability, cognitive impairment, geriatric syndromes, cognitive, iatrogenic illness


Centro Medicina dell' Invecchiamento Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore 00168, Rome, Italy.

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