Clinicians need to evaluate what medications the patient is taking and is there still a valid reason to take the medication. Do the benefits outweigh the risks of taking the medication? Are there any drug interactions that may be harmful to the patient, and is the drug causing any side effects?

Shared decision making about management and information such as the data obtained in this trial allows the clinician to be more precise in counseling patients about the potential outcomes of discontinuing treatment of statins at the end of life. In our patients on multiple drug regiments we often can achieve better health outcomes for our patients when we decide to discontinue a medication instead of adding yet another drug.

More randomized trials on discontinuing medication at the end of life and in our geriatric patients would be a welcome addition to the information we would provide when educating our patients.

Everett Schlam, MD, is Assistant Director of the Mountainside Hospital Family Practice Residency Program and Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at St. George’s University School of Medicine.

References

  1. Kutner JS, Blatchford PJ, Taylor DH, Jr, et al. Safety and Benefit of Discontinuing Statin Therapy in the Setting of Advanced, Life-Limiting Illness: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(5):691-700. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.0289.