Deprescribing guidelines: Ottawa pharmacist aims to reduce medications amongst older adults

Ottawa, June 27, 2013 — The government of Ontario recently funded Bruyère Research Institute scientist and Universities of Ottawa and Waterloo assistant professor, Barbara Farrell, PharmD, approximately $430,000 to study the development and implementation of deprescribing guidelines aimed to minimize medications that are causing side effects or are no longer needed.

“Reducing medication use can be a challenging process, but with the introduction of guidelines and attention to implementation, there will be better consistency in reducing the number of medications prescribed to older adults with the goal of improving quality-of-life,” says Dr. Farrell.

For example, Gordon Cluett, 82, a Bruyère Geriatric Day Hospital patient, says he is well on his way to restoring his active lifestyle, thanks in part to the slow tapering of some of his medications.

Following an orthopaedic injury as well as the recent passing of his wife, Mr. Cluett was on a number of prescriptions that affected both his cognitive function and his mobility. Thanks to the practice of deprescribing — a focused technique of this innovative study led by Ottawa pharmacist Barbara Farrell — he is transitioning to fewer medications and regaining his active lifestyle.

“Through the help of my doctor and the pharmacist, I have already cut down on three of the medications that I take,” said Mr. Cluett. “I’m feeling much better and am starting to become active again.”

The deprescribing project will involve other Bruyère scientists, as well as researchers from the University of Toronto and University of Waterloo. By working together to re-evaluate medications seniors are taking, researchers, physicians, and pharmacists aim to improve the quality of life for seniors while still managing chronic health conditions.

Dr. Farrell’s deprescribing project is one piece of a larger interdisciplinary initiative called OPEN — the Ontario Pharmacy Research Collaboration — led by Dr. Nancy Waite from the University of Waterloo and Dr. Lisa Dolovich from McMaster University.

Bruyère Research Institute scientist and Concordia University professor James Conklin, PhD, is working with Dr. Farrell on the deprescribing project, and is also co-lead of the Knowledge Translation and Exchange team for the OPEN program.

Dr. Conklin says, “We have a unique opportunity to bring about change and improvement to pharmacist services in Ontario. To make sure that happens, we need to engage with a broad stakeholder group across the province, and make sure that the research is relevant and actionable in individual health care settings.”

The OPEN project received $5.7 million in funding and will allow researchers to study the quality, outcomes and value of pharmacist services and improve medication use.

About Bruyère Research Institute

The Bruyère Research Institute supports scientists who contribute to the relevant and practical knowledge in continuing care, with a particular focus on primary, health of the elderly and palliative care. The Institute draws upon its unique situation, as part of the University of Ottawa and the Bruyère Continuing Care academic health centre, to work closely with community and long-term care partners to bring faculty into service delivery, students into service learning and service providers into research and education.

• For media inquiries, please e-mail Andrea Maclean, Bruyère Continuing Care Communications Manager, or call her at (613) 562- 6262, ext. 4022.

• For more information on the deprescribing guidelines project, please contact

• The OPEN project will also provide training in health services research by mentoring students, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. Those interested in learning more about pharmacy practice research training opportunities should visit OPEN’s positions page.

OPEN: Ontario Pharmacy Evidence Network

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University of Waterloo - Health Sciences Campus
10A Victoria St. S, Kitchener, ON N2G 1C5

Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy
University of Toronto – St-George Campus
144 College St, Toronto, ON M5S 3M2

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