The utilization of potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs) in older adults can lead to adverse events and increased healthcare costs. Polypharmacy, the concurrent utilization of multiple medications, is common in older adults with multiple chronic conditions.
To investigate the utilization and costs of PIMs in multimorbid older adults with polypharmacy over time.
This retrospective cross-sectional study used linked Medicare claims and electronic health records from seven hospitals/medical centers in Massachusetts (2007-2014). Participants were ≥65 years old, had ≥2 chronic conditions (to define multimorbidity), and used drugs from ≥5 pharmaceutical classes for ≥90 days (to define polypharmacy). Chronic conditions were defined using the Chronic Conditions Indicator from the Agency for Health Research and Quality. PIMs were defined using the American Geriatrics Society 2019 version of the Beers criteria. We calculated the percentage of patients with ≥1 PIMs and the percentages of patients using different types of PIMs. We used logistic regression analyses to test the odds of taking ≥1 PIMs. We calculated mean costs spent on PIMs by dividing the costs spent on PIMs by the total medication cost.
≥69% of patients used ≥1 PIM. After adjusting for healthcare utilization, chronic conditions, medication intake, and demographic factors, female sex (2014: Odds ratio (OR)=1.27, 95%CI 1.25-1.30), age (2014: OR=0.92, 95%CI 0.90-0.93), and Hispanic ethnicity (2014: OR=1.41, 95%CI 1.27-1.56) were associated with PIM use. Gastrointestinal drugs and central nervous system drugs were the most commonly-used PIMs. In patients using ≥1 PIM, >10% of medication costs were spent on PIMs.
The utilization of PIMs in US older adults with multimorbidity and polypharmacy is high.

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