A national and international collaboration of researchers from seven universities has been awarded a $2.5 million grant to study the use, impact and cost effectiveness of medicines among older people.
The five-year study to be undertaken by the Centre of Research Excellence in Medicines and Ageing will analyse large pools of prescription and other data to investigate the actual use of medicines among older Australians, examining safety, cost and the appropriateness of prescription.
Professor Andrew McLachlan from the University of Sydney, who jointly leads the CRE in Medicines and Ageing, said the cross disciplinary study would help to understand the benefits and harms of medicines used across the adult lifespan.
“Medicines have an important place in health and are commonly used for long periods, sometimes life-long. Using medicines wisely requires a careful balance between benefits and harmful effects.
“Currently, there is limited information to guide the use of medicines over a lifetime. Using large linked datasets, the CRE in Medicines and Ageing will generate much needed evidence about real world medicines use to support clinical and pharmaceutical policy decisions,” he said.
The CRE in Medicines and Ageing is a collaboration between researchers at the University of Sydney, Australian National University, The Sax Institute, University of Western Australia, University of NSW, University of Technology Sydney, and the Institute for Clinical and Evaluative Sciences in Canada.
In particular, the study funded by the National Health and Medical Research Centre will focus on medicines used widely for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, cancer, respiratory disease, pain management and mental health. Another area of investigation will be the use of antipsychotic drugs in residents of aged-care facilities.
Director of the Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation at the UTS Business school Dr Rosalie Viney and one of the 10 chief investigators on the project said the centre’s researchers were particularly interested in the drivers of health care costs in the last six months of life.
“Are there medicines that are dangerous together that are causing hospitalisation in that period?” Prof Viney said.
She said while medicines are rigorously tested before being approved for release, clinical trials do not quantify the longer-term clinical outcomes of medicines in specific patient groups, such as older Australians.
“Tests are conducted in highly selected patient populations under conditions that don’t reflect the way medicines are used in the real world over long time periods,” she said.
Dr Viney, Professor in Health Economics, is widely recognised for her expertise in the economic evaluation of medicines.