By Christian Duffin
The European Union’s medicines watchdog is introducing stricter rules to ensure that drugs used by older people have been researched for use in this population and are continuously monitored for safety after they come onto the market.
The policy is part of the European Medicines Agency new geriatric medicines strategy, which has been launched in response to growing concerns about the use of counter-productive drugs, including antihypertensives and antipsychotics, in the elderly.
Pulse reported in November that Department of Health chief pharmaceutical officer Dr Keith Ridge had called for a ‘fresh look’ at the use of these drugs in the elderly, saying they often did more harm than good.
Pulse has also reported concerns by Professor Sir Alasdair Beckenridge, chair of the MHRA, that GPs often prescribe far too many drugs to older patients.
The strategy document states: ‘We will ensure that the development and evaluation of new medicines takes into account specific safety and efficacy aspects related to ageing.
‘The EMA will ensure that the best regulatory and scientific expertise is available to provide advice to pharmaceutical companies during the development of medicines used by geriatric patients, particularly for innovative medicines and novel therapeutic approaches.’
This week care services minister Paul Burstow also announced the DH will implement the 2010 Equality Act in full throughout the NHS, to counter ‘ageist attitudes’, saying ‘there can be no place for arbitrary age discrimination in the NHS.’
Regulator revamps geriatric drug licensing The EMA has launched a geriatrics medicines strategy