In Italy, prescription drug costs represent approximately 17% of total public health expenditures. Older adults commonly use multiple drugs and, for this reason, this population is responsible for a large portion of drug-related costs. In 2012, public expenditure for pharmaceuticals in primary care exceeded 11 billion Euros (approximately 15.2 billion US $), and older adults aged 65 or older accounted for more than 60% of these costs. Recently, increased attention has been focused on studies aimed at monitoring drug use and evaluating the appropriateness of drug prescribing in older adults. In this article, we examined studies that assessed these issues in different settings at a national level. Specifically, results of surveys of prescription drug use in primary care (OsMED), hospital (GIFA, CRIME, and REPOSI) and long-term care (ULISSE and SHELTER) settings are reviewed. Overall, these studies showed that the quality of drug prescribing in older patients is far from optimal. This leads to an increased risk of negative health outcomes and increased health care costs. Data from these studies are valuable, not only to monitor drug use, but also to target interventions aimed at improving the quality of prescribing. Translating the findings of clinical research and monitoring programs will be challenging, but it will lead to quantifiable improvements in the quality of drug prescribing at a national level.
- Medication use