Frazier Polypharmacy Program

The Frazier Polypharmacy Program is a program dedicated to research, education and outreach regarding the challenge of Polypharmacy and was started in the U of L Department of Family and Geriatric Medicine in 2007.  Previously, the Frazier Polypharmacy Program was called the Polypharmacy Initiative. It was launched through the support of a local citizen and philanthropist (Mrs. Jean Frazier) whose long-standing concern about polypharmacy aligned with the work led by then chair, Dr. James G. O’Brien MD. The pilot eventually became the University of Louisville Frazier Polypharmacy Program.

Polypharmacy is the use of high levels and variable combinations of prescription medications, over the counter medications, supplements and vitamins. 

Below is a graph representing prescriptions per capita reported by the Kaiser Foundation.  (It reads that Kentucky uses 32 scripts per capita but what that number means is total number of refills per year, so one prescription medication refilled every month would count as 12). Although this graph ends with 2016, the trend is still increasing annually.

 Primary Care Providers have the daunting challenge of trying to manage high levels of medications for the overall wellness of their patients. People’s medication burden increases with increasing disease burden, and multiple physicians caring for multiple diseases. Patients often have a primary care provider, plus multiple specialists, urgent care visits and hospitalizations which all contribute to increased medication burden.

Polypharmacy has changed from being exclusively a part of life for older persons to a part of life for all ages, including middle age adults, and children. If a child has asthma, diabetes and ADHD, they could be receiving as many as 7 or more medications, not counting over the counter medication.

Medical science tells us that the use of 5 medications at the same time in older persons increases the risk of adverse events, and now we know that for middle aged adults, the risk increases with the use of 10 medications.  The Frazier Polypharmacy Program is dedicated to studying medication use in all ages and what polypharmacy means to everyone involved ranging from the consumer to the healthcare system.

For a general discussion about Polypharmacy, you can see Demetra Antimisiaris PharmD, from the Frazier Polypharmacy Program, by clicking on Connections with Renee Shaw.

You can hear more about Polypharmacy by clicking on Louisville Lectures-Polypharmacy, the Silent Syndrome, presented by Demetra Antimisiaris PharmD.