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Prevalence of long-term use of medicines with prolonged oral clearance in the elderly: A survey in north east England

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Anne Maguire, Dr Wasim Baqir


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Aim: To determine the prevalence of long-term use by the elderly of prescribed and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines with prolonged oral clearance (POC), with regard to sugars content, dose form and therapeutic groups of medicines used. Design and setting: Two cross-sectional observational surveys in ten general medical practices in north-east England during 1996. Methods: Computerised patient records of all elderly patients (aged 60 years and over) were surveyed for prescribed medicines use. Within these practices, 50% of elderly patients registered with ten general medical practitioners were surveyed by postal questionnaire to assess over-the-counter (OTC) medicines use. Results: Of 20,731 elderly patients registered, prevalence of use of prescribed prolonged oral clearance (POC) medicines was 9.8% (95% CI: 8.2%,11.3%) and use in females aged 75years and older was significantly more likely (P < 0.0001). Of 2,796 prescribing instances (PIs) for 143 POC medicines used long-term, 53% were gastrointestinal and 72% were sugars-free; however, 82% of 542 PIs for generic liquids were sugars-containing compared with 8% of 685 PIs for proprietary liquid oral medicines. Of 1,532 elderly respondents to a postal questionnaire, 17 were using 13 different OTC medicines with POC regularly and long-term (mean prevalence; 1.1%). Of the 17 instances of regular long-term use of OTC medicines, 59% were sugars-free. Conclusions: Prescribed medicines represent the bulk of regular, long-term medicines use in the elderly. Generic prescribing is more likely to result in sugars-containing medicines being dispensed. Generic medicines manufacturers must be encouraged to provide sugars-free alternatives to POC medicines used long-term, and health professionals should be vigilant when prescribing and dispensing these medicines to the increasingly dentate elderly. © British Dental Journal 2000.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Maguire A; Baqir W

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Dental Journal

Year: 2000

Volume: 189

Issue: 5

Pages: 267-272

ISSN (print): 0007-0610

ISSN (electronic): 1476-5373


DOI: 10.1038/sj.bdj.4800741

PubMed id: 11048395