Providing quality long term care for the elderly while containing costs is presenting major challenges for governments and policy makers. Although international variability exists with respect to the number of medications and other factors influencing suboptimal pharmacotherapy, suboptimal pharmacotherapy among elderly persons is common. This international problem requires a creative and multifaceted approach to improve and rationalise prescribing. We outline the non-regulatory efforts and regulatory means to approaching this problem. The recent introduction of a prospective payment system for long-term care in the US has underscored the importance of a regulatory approach to counter-balance the cost containment efforts which bundle the cost of medications into a prospectively set per diem rate. An examination of how US regulatory bodies are considering improving prescribing is provided. Considering the case of coronary heart disease, we provide data regarding the performance of a quality indicator aimed at stimulating quality prescribing for this medical condition. Although the use of regulatory approaches can improve prescribing, it is also recognised that a more holistic approach involving multidisciplinary teams and greater focus on the patient is the ultimate aspiration. This is particularly the case with the elderly in whom appropriate drug therapy can have a major impact on outcomes. A major cultural shift in the way society views and treats the elderly may be required in order to produce dramatic improvements in long term care for older people.
Aspirin, Coronary disorders, Drug utilisation, Pharmacoeconomics, Prescribing
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