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Overview of current and future research and clinical directions for drug discontinuation: psychological, traditional and professional obstacles to deprescribing
  1. Doron Garfinkel1,2,
  1. 1Wolfson Medical Center, Holon, Israel
  2. 2Homecare Service, Israel Cancer Association, Givatayim, Israel
  1. Correspondence to Professor Doron Garfinkel, Wolfson Medical Center, 55 Ben-Gurion Road, Bat Yam, 5932210, Israel; dorong{at}


The vicious circle of age-related diseases, many experts and guidelines/drugs fuels the 21st century iatrogenic epidemic of inappropriate medication use and polypharmacy. There are no evidence-based medicine (EBM) ‘guidelines’ for treating older people, and knowledge gaps regarding dosage requirements. For all drugs, the positive benefit/risk ratio is decreasing/inverted in correlation to very old age, comorbidity, dementia, frailty and limited life-expectancy (VOCODFLEX). Main obstacles to routine deprescribing are emotional/psychological myths; patient–doctor interactions are expected to be transformed into prescription; doctors are perceived as expert prescribers who wisely choose the right medication/s to treat all diseases. Although most ‘guidelines’ were not proven in older people, particularly VOCODFLEX, doctors are afraid of lawsuits and of the patient/family reaction if they do not follow all experts' recommendations. Doctors are frustrated facing uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of strategies to reduce polypharmacy and the lack of EBM indicating when to de-prescribe. When explicit criteria and ‘drugs to avoid’ are used alone, we may disregard undiagnosed harms imposed by the remaining drug groups and interactions. The best approaches are implicit tools that take into consideration EBM data, clinical circumstances and medical judgement. The Garfinkel Good Palliative-Geriatric Practice method recommends deprescribing of as many drugs as possible simultaneously, giving high priority to patient/family preferences. It was proven highly effective and safe in nursing departments and in community-dwelling elders, having significant economic benefits as well.

  • polypharmacy
  • EDUCATION & TRAINING (see Medical Education & Training)

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