Numerous older people in Germany are still being prescribed potentially unsuitable medication. More than every second person over the age of 65 received at least one drug last year that is on a special list because of possible undesirable interactions or side effects. This emerges from an analysis of regulations to 16.4 million older people with statutory insurance, as reported by the AOK (Wido) scientific institute. Women are particularly affected.

Older people often have several chronic diseases that are treated in parallel. It is said that 43 percent of insured persons over the age of 65 were treated with more than five different active ingredients at the same time. Thus, this group is considered to be particularly vulnerable to undesirable consequences. Another reason is that the body usually breaks down drugs more slowly as we age.

Almost 180 active ingredients on the risk list

Doctors can use a list (Priscus 2.0) to identify which substances have a risk potential. There are now almost 180 active ingredients that should not be used in older people or should only be used with particular caution.

For example, it is about drugs that increase the risk of falling, cause dizziness or impair perception. According to Wido, although they are on the list, special stomach protection preparations are often prescribed, as well as some active ingredients for pain, antidepressants and medicines for bladder and prostate problems.

The problem has been known for a long time. According to Wido, the proportion of potentially risky drugs prescribed has already decreased over the past ten years. However, the Wido continues to speak of an “implementation problem”. For example, work aids for medical practices and patient information should contribute to further improvement.

Some of the active ingredients listed can be replaced by alternatives, but dose adjustments and other measures can also help.