RCSI receives €2.4m to improve medicine deprescription

22 Aug 2023

Image: © Andrii/Stock.adobe.com

The RCSI’s Dr Frank Moriarty has received a Wellcome grant to discover new ways to reduce the number of medications people use.

A researcher with the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) has received a €2.4m grant to research deprescribing – the process of reducing or stopping medications.

Dr Frank Moriarty, a senior lecturer at the RCSI’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, received the Career Development Award from Wellcome, a London-based charity focused on health research

Modern medicine has helped increase the average life expectancy, but people tend to get prescribed more medications to prevent and manage disease as they get older.

While there are benefits to these medications, there is also the risk that this long-term use can lead to adverse effects. Moriarty aims to find new approaches to reduce medications and identify medicines that might no longer be needed or could be contributing to adverse effects.

To begin this process, the new project – called Diamond – will look through large amounts of data that is already collected as part of routine healthcare, such as GP and hospital visits. This project also aims to create a tool that can identify patients most at risk of side effects from antidepressant medicines.

The grant award will run over eight years, starting from 2024, and will fund the research, dataset access and the recruitment of new researchers. Moriarty said the funding will allow him to build a team that can pave the way for “high-quality deprescribing research and clinical practice”.

“The evidence we hope to generate through innovative, data-driven approaches will improve the quality of healthcare to benefit population health,” Moriarty said. “We are embedding open science in this project, by sharing our methods and tools for other researchers to use in future studies and maximise our impact.”

In 2021, the RCSI received a €1.3m grant to further develop a blood test that can predict whether a person is likely to develop a psychotic disorder later in life. That grant came from Wellcome’s Psychosis Flagship, which aims to reduce the global burden of psychosis by improving diagnosis.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic