A nationwide survey of hospital pharmacist interventions to improve polypharmacy for patients with cancer in palliative care in Japan

Published on 2019-07-03T05:00:00Z (GMT) by
Abstract Background There is no nationwide data on polypharmacy in palliative care in Japan. In this study, the research committee of the Japanese Society for Pharmaceutical Palliative Care and Sciences conducted an online survey on polypharmacy and inappropriate prescriptions involving its members who worked as hospital pharmacists. Methods The online questionnaire included questions about hospital pharmacist interventions for cancer patients who regularly used six or more drugs during a two-month period from October to November 2017. Results Of 2618 hospital pharmacists, 359 responded (13.7%). With regard to cancer patients receiving opioids, 40.9 and 22.3% of the respondents replied that percentages of patients prescribed six or more regular medications were “40–69%” and “70–99%,” respectively. Regarding patients on polypharmacy, 73.0% of the respondents reported a low or moderate rate of inappropriate prescriptions, with responses such as “long-term administration of irresponsible or aimless medications”, “adverse drug reactions,” and “duplication of the pharmacological effect”. Furthermore, 24.2, 46.8, and 23.4% of respondents replied that the rates of drug reduction due to pharmacist recommendations were “0”, “1–39%”, and “more than 40%,” respectively. Pharmacist interventions decreased the use of inappropriate medications, including antiemetics, gastrointestinal medications, and hypnotic sedatives, and reduced or prevented adverse drug reactions such as extrapyramidal symptoms, delirium, and sleepiness. Similar results were obtained for cancer patients who did not use opioids. However, the rates of cancer patients on polypharmacy and with reduction of inappropriate medications by pharmacist interventions were significantly higher in cancer patients receiving opioids. Finally, recommendations of board-certified pharmacists in palliative pharmacy contributed to a decrease in the use of inappropriate medications in cancer patients on polypharmacy (p = 0.06). Conclusion This nationwide survey clarified pharmacist interventions for polypharmacy in palliative care in Japan. Our data showed frequent polypharmacy in cancer patients receiving opioids, and benefits of pharmacist interventions, especially by board-certified pharmacists in palliative pharmacy, for reducing inappropriate medications and improving adverse drug reactions. Trial registration The study approval numbers in the institution; 0046. Registered November 6, 2017.

Cite this collection

Uchida, Mayako; Suzuki, Shinya; Sugawara, Hideki; Suga, Yukio; Kokubun, Hideya; Uesawa, Yoshihiro; et al. (2019): A nationwide survey of hospital pharmacist interventions to improve polypharmacy for patients with cancer in palliative care in Japan. figshare. Collection. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.4563722.v1