Medications can extend lives, relieve symptoms, and reduce the feared consequences of disease. Yet medication treatment is a double-edged sword. These same treatments can cause bothersome and dangerous side effects, burden people and their caregivers, and deplete savings. Unfortunately, many older adults are taking one or more medications for which these harms outweigh the benefits, including medications that were once advisable but have become problematic either because the person has developed adverse effects, or because their clinical conditions, overall health, and/or goals of care may have changed since the medication was first prescribed.
Deprescribing refers to the thoughtful and systematic process of identifying problematic medications and either reducing the dose or stopping these medications in a manner that is safe, effective, and helps people maximize their wellness and goals of care. But deprescribing isn’t easy. Little is known about how to best identify which medications are prime for deprescribing, how to safely and effectively stop them, and how to engage patients, clinicians, and the health system in this process in a seamless and patient-centered manner. The network was founded to help close this evidence gap, and in doing so improve deprescribing and the optimization of medications used by older adults.