Drugs & Aging

, Volume 30, Issue 7, pp 561–568 | Cite as

Polypharmacy and Potentially Inappropriate Medication in the Adult, Community-Dwelling Population in Switzerland

  • Eva BlozikEmail author
  • Roland Rapold
  • Jan von Overbeck
  • Oliver Reich
Original Research Article



Polypharmacy and potentially inappropriate medication (PIM) are associated with adverse outcomes such as hospitalization, loss of productivity, and death.


This study evaluates the prevalence of polypharmacy and PIM in the adult community-dwelling population in Switzerland.


The analysis is done based on claims data from the largest health insurance in Switzerland. We calculated the number of medications submitted for reimbursement, the proportion of persons with polypharmacy, and the proportion of persons receiving PIM according to the 2003 Beers criteria and the PRISCUS list. Additionally, we estimated cost for medications and PIM, and identified the most prevalent groups of PIM according to the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System (ATC).


17 % of the adult community-dwelling population in Switzerland received 5 or more medications which is one of the common definitions of polypharmacy, and over 21 % of adults aged more than 65 years had a PIM according to 2003 Beers criteria or the PRISCUS list. The most prevalent classes of PIM were psycholeptics, sex hormones, psychoanaleptics, and antiinflammatory drugs.


Although the present study has a number of limitations, we conclude that the prevalence of polypharmacy and PIM in Switzerland is high. A broad spectrum of interventions on the individual level as well as on the population level is urgently needed.


Nursing Home Resident Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification Beers Criterion Basic Health Insurance Receive Home Care 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The study was funded by own resources of the Helsana group and the Swiss Center for Telemedicine Medgate. The sponsors had no role in the design and conduct of the study nor in the decision to submit this manuscript.

Conflicts of interest

None declared.

Supplementary material

40266_2013_73_MOESM1_ESM.docx (119 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 119 kb)
40266_2013_73_MOESM2_ESM.docx (118 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 118 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva Blozik
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Roland Rapold
    • 3
  • Jan von Overbeck
    • 1
  • Oliver Reich
    • 3
  1. 1.Swiss Center for Telemedicine MedgateBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Primary Medical CareUniversity Medical Center Hamburg-EppendorfHamburgGermany
  3. 3.Department of Health SciencesHelsana GroupZurichSwitzerland

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