Bohemian Polypharmacy

A musical plea to stop over medication

I ran across this informative and creative YouTube video on one of my favorite blogs, Health News Review by Gary Schwitzer.

I don’t know how James McCormack, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia, finds time to produce these videos, but I’m a big fan.  His latest is “Bohemian Polypharmacy” – a parody of Queen’s classic song “Bohemian Rhapsody” – a song all about polypharmacy – taking more medicines than are clinically indicated.

The vocals and the new lyrics are awesome, especially if you agree wholeheartedly with Professor McCormack, as I do,  that many elderly adults are taking way too many medications at too high doses.

Some important numbers Dr. McCormack shares in the video are:

  • 33% of adults over the age of 60 take 5 or more medications
  • 10% of adult ER visits are directly related to adverse medication effects
  • 75% of medication side effects are dose related

He also emphasizes the need for shared-decision making and starting medications on lower than recommended doses. New drugs on the market, especially, might have starting doses that are way too high.

Several drugs he thinks could just be done away with almost entirely. Statins (for cholesterol) and biphosphonates (for osteoporosis) are two he names. I have warned friends and family away from these for years.

He packs a lot of information into this short music video. Take time to pause and read the tables and lists he presents more fully.

Share this information with elderly family members who might benefit from taking fewer medications. Encourage them to talk with their doctors about it.


Frugal Nurse


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