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Polypharmacy prevalent in cancer patients with comorbidities

26 Jul 2020

A recent cross-sectional, retrospective study in Saudi Arabia has found a high prevalence of polypharmacy in oncology patients, especially in those with comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma, and anxiety.

“Although several studies have described the prevalence of polypharmacy in cancer patients, its prevalence among Middle Eastern cancer patients is largely unknown,” the authors said. “Therefore, the aim of this study is to assess the prevalence of polypharmacy among ambulatory cancer patients as well as its association with comorbidities.”

Polypharmacy, defined as the cumulative use of five or more medications, was present in approximately 79 percent of 389 ambulatory cancer patients included in this study.

Polypharmacy occurred more frequently among those with hypertension (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 3.24, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 1.41–7.42), diabetes (aOR, 3.33, 95 percent CI, 1.39–7.98), asthma (aOR, 8.64, 95 percent CI, 1.64–45.54), and anxiety (aOR, 3.61, 95 percent CI, 1.72–7.57).

“Because polypharmacy mostly goes hand in hand with comorbidities, a multidisciplinary team approach of oncology pharmacist working with other healthcare providers to manage polypharmacy and simplify drug regimens for cancer patients is warranted to optimize the healthcare quality and improve drug safety,” the authors said.

This study analysed electronic health records among ambulatory cancer patients aged ≥18 years in a tertiary care hospital. A multivariable binary logistic regression model was used to assess the factors associated with polypharmacy in these individuals.

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