Korean J Clin Pharm.  2018 Mar;28(1):1-9. 10.24304/kjcp.2018.28.1.1.

Reviews on the Current Status and Appropriate Management of Polypharmacy in South Korea

  • 1College of Pharmacy, Kyungpook National University, Daegu 41566, Republic of Korea. jwkwon@knu.ac.kr
  • 2College of Pharmacy, CHA University, Gyeonggi-do 13488, Republic of Korea.


Polypharmacy is increasing owing to an increase in the elderly population and multimorbidities associated with the increased risk of administration of potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs). The negative effects of polypharmacy on various health conditions and aspects, such as fall, fracture, mortality, cognitive function, and dementia, have been reported. The management of excess and inappropriate polypharmacy through proper interventions and local or national guidelines has been highlighted. The purpose of polypharmacy management is to appropriately prescribe medicines that are essential to treat diseases in patients and to avoid inappropriate polypharmacy, such as interactive or duplicate medicines under prescription and PIMs for specific diseases. Community pharmacists in Australia, the EU, USA, and Japan are collaborating with prescribers to review medications to ensure that the patients can be prescribed appropriate medications. The service cost is reimbursed by public or private insurers. A study in the United States has shown that even with medication review costs, the overall medication cost has reduced. In Korea, various projects such as Drug Utilization Review service and safe use of medicines have been conducted; however, no national guidelines or management measures have been established. It is necessary to implement a national long-term plan on polypharmacy management. Furthermore, a phased implementation plan is required. Shortly, active medication review services and education programs for healthcare professionals with the support of the government should be considered in Korea with reference to other countries in order to raise awareness of seriousness and risks of inappropriate polypharmacy.


Polypharmacy; the elderly; potentially inappropriate medication
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