Ethical Considerations on Factors of and Measures against Polypharmacy

Atsushi Asai, Masashi Tanaka, Taketoshi Okita, Seiji Bito, Motoki Ohnishi, Yasuhiro Kadooka
Volume 3 Issue 1 Pages 18-29
First Published: October 8, 2020



Polypharmacy refers to the use of multiple medications by a patient. In general, it refers to the simultaneous use of 5-9 types of medication. Although many definitions exist, the large number of medications used, inappropriate prescriptions, and toxicity have been raised as issues. The negative effects of polypharmacy are diverse, and include increased incidence of falls, functional decline, fracture, renal dysfunction, hospitalization, death, and adverse drug events. Polypharmacy also leads to drug underuse, economic burden on patients, and increase in overall national medical expenses. Polypharmacy can be considered an inevitable result of advances in medicine and a super-aging society. In this study, we point out various trends relating to health and medical care which may exacerbate the polypharmacy problem, and discuss measures which could potentially improve the future state of prescription and medication use.


Key words

polypharmacy, medical ethics, super-aging society, medical education, deprescription