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Researcher: Pharmacists may play role in optimal depression treatment in elderly

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Anticholinergics are a class of drugs used to treat depression and urinary incontinence among other conditions.

But, taking these drugs can come at a price. Research shows an over-reliance on them is associated with decreased memory, alertness and planning skills in older adults

News 8 spoke with Noll Campbell, a scientist at the Regenstrief Institute, who says his research shows pharmacists may play a key role when it comes to deprescribing these medications in favor of alternative treatments so elderly patients do not lose brain function. 

“For the last several years, we’ve tried to use medical records, pop-up alerts, using reminders to providers or messaging systems, but we haven’t really been successful at stopping those medicines,” said Campbell, who holds a doctorate in pharmacy. “Other times, there are other higher priority things going on. Well, this pharmacist-based approach, who have the discussions with the patient, have the discussion with the provider and be a facilitator in a safe way, not just stopping today what they were using yesterday, but working over the course of a couple of weeks we found a way to stop those medications slowly.”

Campbell goes on to say his research focuses on older adults using medications that are considered to be high-risk because sometimes they have more side effects than benefits. Having pharmacists play a larger role in patient care may be beneficial to these patients.