Most older Americans take multiple prescriptions but haven't received medication review, unaware Medicare covers it

Most older Americans take two or more prescription drugs, but only a small percentage have had a pharmacist review the potential interactions of their medication combinations, according to survey results released Oct. 7 by Michigan Medicine.

The findings come from the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based health system's National Poll on Healthy Aging, for which it gathered responses from 2,048 Americans ages 50 to 80. The research team found that two-thirds of older Americans depend on two or more prescription drugs and about 20 percent of older Americans take five or more.

Medication reviews are covered for Medicare Part D patients who meet the criteria. These reviews are meant to check for potential negative interactions between multiple drugs or supplements, as well as inform patients about lower-cost alternatives. 

However, patients have been historically unlikely to participate in these reviews. Survey responses revealed that 85 percent of Medicare Part D patients who had not had a medication review weren't aware they could be eligible for one. They also showed that only 29 percent of respondents who take five or more prescription drugs have undergone a medication review with their pharmacist.

"These results show the importance of continuing efforts by physicians, pharmacists, other health care providers, insurers and policymakers to help older adults understand the importance of medication reviews," Antoinette Coe, PharmD, PhD, one of the survey's researchers, said in a news release.

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