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Criteria for Drug Selection in Frail Elderly Persons

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Background: Elderly patients with multiple morbidities and polypharmacy are at an increased risk of adverse drug events (ADEs). Appropriate prescribing, preserving the balance between drug effectiveness and safety, and treatment adherence may prevent these ADEs. In this study, we investigated which drug properties, such as effectiveness, safety, clinical experience and convenience, are relevant to the choice of medicine most appropriate for frail elderly patients.

Objectives: The primary aim of this study was to develop a set of criteria to assist in the selection of the most appropriate drug within a drug class for the treatment of frail elderly patients. A secondary goal was to test the usefulness of the set of criteria in the prescription of antipsychotics for delirium and behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD).

Methods: Thirty-one criteria potentially relevant to the choice of appropriate drugs for frail elderly patients were selected on the basis of a literature search in MEDLINE (1966–2008), EMBASE (1947–2008) and the Cochrane Library (1993–2008). This list was reviewed by 46 experts (24 physicians, 22 pharmacists), who scored each item for relevance in clinical practice on a scale from 1 to 10 (where 1 is not important and 10 is very important). By consensus, the authors selected the most relevant criteria for the final set of criteria. The usefulness of the final set of criteria was assessed with regard to the prescription of antipsychotics for delirium and BPSD.

Results: The final set of 23 items consisted of 3 items on effectiveness, 14 on safety, including pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic criteria, 3 on clinical experience and 3 on convenience. Assessment using these criteria of the appropriateness of antipsychotics prescribed for delirium and BPSD revealed that certain drugs should be prescribed with caution to patients with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

Conclusions: The criteria identified in this study, selected on the basis of a literature review and clinical expert opinion, represent a promising approach for determining the appropriateness of a drug for use in frail elderly individuals relative to alternative drugs for the same indication or from the same class.

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The project was supported by the Dutch College of Health Insurance (CVZ), and this article was written with their consent. The CVZ did not participate in the writing process. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this study.

We would like to thank the experts who answered the questionnaire, and especially the experts who participated on the expert panel and discussed the results of the literature study concerning efficacy, safety, experience and convenience of antipsychotics in the frail elderly. The experts who answered the questionnaire were W. Achterberg, A.J. Arends, F. Boersma, M.L. Bouvy, H. Buurma, C.M. Dantuma-Wering, C. de Groot, S. de Rooy, W. Denneboom, T. Dhondt, A.C.G. Egberts, S. Flikweert, H. Folmer, J.C. Heijboer-Vinks, J. Hugtenburg, R. Janknegt, P. Jue, B. Kleijer, C.A.J. Knibbe, W. Knol, R. Kok, A.W. Lenderink, J. Lüers, C.K. Manesse, J.G. Maring, K.L.L. Movig, F. Oostervink, T. Schalekamp, A.F.A.M. Schobben, M. Smalbrugge, M.J. Swart-Zuijderduijn, D.J. Touw, Th.F.J. Tromp, C. van ‘t Hooft, D.Z.B. van Asselt, P.M.L.A. van de Bemt, B.J.F. van den Bemt, C.J. van der Graaf, J.R. van der Laan, C.M.J. van der Linden, K. van Dijk, T. van Gelder, N.A.E.M. van Lent-Evers, E.J.M. van Melick, L. Veehof, R.W. Vingerhoets, E.P. Walma and S. Zuidema. The experts who participated on the expert panel and discussed the literature results were A. Arends, F. Boersma, W. Knol, F. Moolenaar, F. Oostervink, T. Schalekamp, K. Taxis and J. van der Laan.

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Correspondence to Dr Rob J. van Marum.

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Huisman-Baron, M., van der Veen, L., Jansen, P.A.F. et al. Criteria for Drug Selection in Frail Elderly Persons. Drugs Aging 28, 391–402 (2011). https://doi.org/10.2165/11587200-000000000-00000

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