Medicines management

Tackling the issue of polypharmacy
The King's Fund, London, UK
Event type: 
Breakfast seminar

About this event

About the seminar

At this free to attend breakfast seminar, Dr Martin Duerden, Assistant Medical Director, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, North Wales, and an invited panel of speakers will share early insights from our work in the area of medicines management, and invite debate and discussion on a new paper, to be published in spring 2013.


Prescribing in the NHS is increasing at a relentless rate, with items prescribed by general practice increasing by about 7 per cent year-on-year (The King’s Fund, 2011). Between 1997 and 2007 prescribing costs in general practice rose by 60 per cent, to £8 billion. Approximately 60 per cent of NHS expenditure on medications occurs amongst people who are over 65, with 36 per cent of such people taking 4 or more medications daily.

Polypharmacy has become the norm in the NHS and represents the use of multiple medications by a patient when more drugs are prescribed than is clinically warranted or when all prescribed medications are clinically indicated but there are too many pills to take.

Monitoring the side-effects of medications is particularly important with polypharmacy since common results include adverse drug reactions and higher costs. There is a need, therefore, to supervise these treatments and develop effective strategies for medications management.

The King’s Fund report

There is good evidence that guidance and peer review can support improvements in the quality and safety of prescribing yet achieving major improvements in patient compliance is more difficult. Since the prevalence of polypharmacy can only increase further in the future, The King’s Fund has commissioned a report to examine how medicines management can be effectively developed to tackle the issue of polypharmacy.