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Polypharmacy single map PHO analysis Consumer summary (531 KB, PDF) 


Polypharmacy refers to the concurrent use of multiple medicines by a person. It can be beneficial (‘appropriate polypharmacy’) or harmful (‘problematic polypharmacy’).[1]

  • Appropriate polypharmacy has been described as ‘prescribing for an individual for complex conditions or for multiple conditions in circumstances where medicines use has been optimised and where the medicines are prescribed according to best evidence’.[1]
  • Problematic polypharmacy is the prescribing of many medicines inappropriately (five or more medicines is often quoted) or adding an inappropriate medicine to an existing regime.[2]

The goal of this Atlas domain is to identify whether there is wide variation in rates that may highlight areas for further local investigation.

Polypharmacy in people aged 65 and over

Last updated: 3rd December, 2021