The main objective in this study is to describe adverse drug events for elderly patients ≥ 70 years, as they are registered in the national database of adverse drug events at the Norwegian Medicines Agency in 2010. In Norway, a relevance-validated list of drugs, drug dosages and drug combinations to be avoided in elderly (≥70 years) patients has been developed; the so-called Norwegian General Practice (NORGEP) criteria.
As a secondary objective, I wanted to investigate the frequency of registered adverse drug events matching these criteria.
280 adverse drug events were registered for elderly ≥ 70 years in the national database during 2010. 63 % were regarded as serious adverse drug events, and 16 % had resulted in death. Warfarin is the drug registered with most adverse drug events, most of them described as cerebral bleedings. Regarding the NORGEP criteria, I only found 6 hits in the database.
The spontaneous reporting system is believed to be hampered by a major underreporting. The results presented in the current study are therefore probably not representative of real-life medical practice, but comprise just a tip of the iceberg.
I suspect that the system used is more likely to detect acute traumatic events such as cerebral bleedings, but that it fails to identify minor, less serious and more prolonged adverse drug events.
I believe that better knowledge among health personnel, more focus and better time during the work day to handle adverse drug events would increase the degree of reporting and give us more knowledge on how to reduce adverse drug events in the elderly.