What is Deprescribing?

Medications that were good then, might not be the best choice now. Deprescribing is part of good prescribing – backing off when doses are too high, or stopping medications that are no longer needed.

Use of some medication, especially as people get older or more ill, can cause more harm than good. Optimizing medication through targeted deprescribing is a vital part of managing chronic conditions, avoiding adverse effects and improving outcomes. 

Sometimes, when reducing medications, adverse drug withdrawal events can happen. These are like side effects of stopping medications. It could be as simple as worsening pain while reducing dose of a pain medication. Or, it could be more serious. Some medications need to be reduced slowly to avoid withdrawal effects. Deprescribing is best done with the partnership of a health care provider. 

Prescribers have asked for guidance and tools to help them reduce or stop drugs. This website houses or contains links to useful resources.

Conversations about deprescribing among prescribers, pharmacists, other health care professionals and patients can be made easier when everyone is aware of the benefits and harms of medications, how these can change over time and what to do about it.