The complex phenomenon of polypharmacy in older age people of Greece: data from the new era of e-prescribing



Polypharmacy is a complex phenomenon with a number of negative effects.


The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence and characteristics of simple (6–10 medicines/person), major (> 11), and excessive (> 21) polypharmacy in patients aged ≥ 60 years in the suburban older age population of Greece.


The prescribing records of 469 consecutive individuals, aged ≥ 60 years and with homogenous characteristics, who were clients of community pharmacies in two suburban areas of Greece (Athens and Thessaloniki) were examined over a period of 14 months. Medications used to treat chronic diseases were divided into 32 major categories and analyzed by age, sex, and medicine consumption.


Polypharmacy was identified in 56.5% of patient records, with 48.8% of records identifying simple polypharmacy and the remaining 7.7% identifying major polypharmacy, with no cases of excessive polypharmacy. An increased usage of chronic drug treatment was observed in the older age groups relative to younger age groups (70.8% of patients aged > 80 years received polypharmacy vs 52.8 and 47.6% of those aged 70–79 and 60–69 years, respectively). The use of polypharmacy did not differ significantly between sexes. The use of chronic disease medication was higher for polypharmacy patients in all drug categories.


Polypharmacy in Greece, especially in older populations, still appears to be increasing, even in the era of e-prescriptions.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Christos Kontogiorgis.

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Conflict of interest

Eleni Charalampopoulou, Christos Kontogiorgis, Evangelia Nena, Theodoros Constantinides, and George Kolios have no conflicts of interest


No sources of funding were used to conduct this study or prepare this manuscript.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. For this type of study, formal consent is not required. Patients’ e-prescription data were collected from community pharmacies and were used anonymously after patient agreement.

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Charalampopoulou, E., Kontogiorgis, C., Nena, E. et al. The complex phenomenon of polypharmacy in older age people of Greece: data from the new era of e-prescribing. Drugs Ther Perspect 33, 580–584 (2017).

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