Four faculty members of the Marshall University School of Pharmacy may take issue with Shakespeare’s Juliet and her age-old question, “what’s in a name?”


The team recently published a commentary on the importance of defining the term “polypharmacy,” which according to the authors has at least 24 distinct meanings and should be more narrowly defined to reduce confusion in research as well as education.


Faculty members Chris Gillette, Ph.D., Leesa Prunty, Pharm.D., Janet Wolcott, Pharm.D., and Kimberly Broedel-Zaugg, R.Ph., M.B.A., Ph.D., contributed to the manuscript, which was published in late August in the journal “Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy.”


Gillette says the need to redefine the term polypharmacy is ultimately a drug safety issue.
“The goal of our paper is meant to start a dialogue within the health services research community that ultimately means better health care for patients,” he said.  “We propose the term be defined as patients going to more than one pharmacy for their prescriptions.”


The team also proffered a new term, “extraordinary prescribing,” to define patients who are taking medications that are either grossly excessive or not beneficial for those patients.


In its manuscript, the Marshall team acknowledged that neither of the current terms in the new lexicon is perfect in description, but if accepted by the research and education community should reduce confusion.