Pharmacists can help prevent medicines-related problems Australians

19 March 2013

NPS MedicineWise has launched a new educational activity for pharmacists to help older Australians manage their medicines safely and avoid medicines-related adverse events and hospital admissions.

Medicines in older people: preventing medicines-related problems is the latest Pharmacy Practice Review from NPS MedicineWise, released this week as part of a suite of professional education programs to address the complex medicines safety issues affecting older Australians.

NPS MedicineWise clinical advisor, Dr Philippa Binns, says older people face a higher risk of adverse medicines events and pharmacists can play a key role to mitigate these risks in partnership with their older patients.

“Medicines are an essential component of care in older people but as we age, medicines use can become a double-edged sword for our health,” says Dr Binns.

“Around one in three unplanned hospital admissions involving older Australians are due to problems with medicines. This is a worrying statistic that reflects the challenges inherent in managing a number of comorbidities and increasingly complex medicines regimens in older patients.

The NPS MedicineWise Pharmacy Practice Review highlights the risks associated with medicines use in older people and encourages pharmacists to consider the highly varied and individual ways that ageing can affect medicines efficacy and impact on their patient’s overall health.

Dr Binns says the new educational program encourages pharmacists to consider current medicines as potential sources of new symptoms and will help pharmacists to work in partnership with their patients to detect and mitigate medicines complications as they arise.

After completing the activity, pharmacists will be able to:

  • explain why older people are at higher risk of experiencing medicines-related problems;
  • recognise a prescribing cascade;
  • consider principles for medicine use in older people when reviewing medicines;
  • make recommendations to the doctor about a patient’s medicines; and
  • recommend strategies to minimise the risk of medicines-related problems.

“For many people, the local pharmacy can often be their first port of call; this means pharmacists are in a unique position to help prevent medicines-related problems in at-risk patients,” says Dr Binns.

“Pharmacists play an important role in recognising when medicines carry a substantially higher risk of adverse events or when medicines have no clear evidence-based indication for use in older people.

“Our latest educational activity empowers pharmacists to address these issues and to improve patient adherence, for example through recommending dose administration aids which can help people take the correct dose at the correct time.

Complete your CPD activities early this year at

Pharmacists can earn up to 40% of their CPD requirements by taking part in this latest Pharmacy Practice Review from NPS MedicineWise. Completion of the activity earns 8 hours of Group 2 CPD (or 16 CPD credits) and participation is free.

For more information about the Older and wiser: promoting safe use of medicines in older people program, available resources and program updates visit


Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.

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