Polypharmacy should be regarded as a disease in itself, and one that has potentially more serious consequences than the conditions the multiple drugs have been prescribed for.

Speaking at this year's Pharmacy Show yesterday, pharmacist Graham Stretch urged everyone involved in medication supply to question whether everything prescribed for a patient was clinically necessary. The ageing UK population meant that there are more people living with multiple conditions, but this meant that multiple medicines - with all the complexity that brings - were being given to those least able to cope with them, he explained.

"This is everyone's business," Mr Stretch said, calling on pharmacists and their teams to remember the premise of medicines optimisation when dispensing for this patient group, and stressing the need to take a holistic look at prescriptions and not assume that there was a current rationale behind every single item. "Peoples circumstances change," he stated. "Less can be more."

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