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New RPS Polypharmacy guidance under development

The RPS is developing guidance on polypharmacy to support patient care across a range of settings.

Data from many countries demonstrates that the number of medicines prescribed to individual patients has grown significantly over the last 10-15 years. As the population ages and many people take an increasing number of medicines for multiple long term conditions, polypharmacy has become a key issue in health and social care.  Evidence suggests that multiple morbidity and the associated medications increases a patient’s risk of harm and contributes to hospital admissions and poor therapeutic outcomes. It can be particularly problematic in older people, particularly the frail.

There is growing activity to address the problems caused by inappropriate polypharmacy and many countries have developed strategies and guidance to both measure and address this difficult issue, including in Scotland and Wales. It is therefore right and timely that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society develops guidance for pharmacists, and others working with patients to review their medication needs, so that this work can be done in a patient-centred way using the best evidence and good practice that exists in this field. We aim, in the development of this guidance, to build on experience and expertise from across England, Scotland and Wales and complement existing guidance across Great Britain.

This is a multidisciplinary piece of work, and so we are engaging with a wide range of stakeholders across Great Britain, including royal colleges and professional bodies, expert and specialist groups, patients and practitioners. NICE has accredited the process used by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to produce professional standards, competency frameworks and guidance. As part of this process we have established a multidisciplinary steering group which will include healthcare professionals and patients.  The steering group will work closely with us to develop the guidance.

We anticipate that the project will take approximately 12 months to complete and we will update this page as the work progresses. The draft guidance will be posted on the RPS website for open consultation and comment before being finalised.

Further information

If you'd like to know more about the project please contact Ruth Wakeman, RPS Associate Director of Professional Standards and Support at [email protected].

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