SIMPATHY Project – Stimulating Innovation Management of Polypharmacy and Adherence in The Elderly

The societies of European countries, including Polish one, are rapidly aging. As people grow older, there are more and more people who suffer from multimorbidity. At the same time, the phenomenon of treatment with numerous drugs, i.e. polypharmacotherapy, is intensifying.

Despite the costs and inconvenience it causes for the patient, polytherapy is in many cases indispensable. The synergistic effect of many drugs allows to cure the disease more effectively than single drugs. However, this does not change the fact that with the number of drugs used, it is more and more difficult for patients to comply with the treatment, and hence, the problem of non-adherence comes.

Treatment with many drugs may have even more serious consequences. Their cause is polypragmasy, that is, the use of many drugs that do not strengthen their therapeutic effect, but significantly increase the risk of drug-induced adverse effects. It leads to deterioration of patients’ health, additional hospitalizations, and in the worst case – even to deaths.

Due to the importance of this problem, the European Commission has initiated actions leading to the development of a European strategy to improve the management of polypharmacy and patient adherence in old age. As a consequence, under the 3rd Health Program, the SIMPATHY Project was financed. Its main objective was to develop a set of comprehensive activities aimed at preventing polypharmacy and improving medication adherence in older people.

The SIMPATHY Project run between 2015-2017. The scope of the Project covered, among the others:

  • Detailed analysis of activities that are undertaken at the local, regional or national level in various European countries, in order to identify good practices worth wider dissemination
  • Analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of healthcare systems in terms of the possibility of introducing changes limiting the scope of polypharmacy
  • Creating and disseminating tools that aim to introduce the desired changes in practice

The consortium implementing the SIMPATHY project included partners representing 10 European countries, but the scope of research covered all European Union countries. As the only partner from Central and Eastern Europe, the Medical University of Lodz entered the consortium, represented by a team from the Department of Family Medicine led by Prof. Przemyslaw Kardas.

Research conducted by Polish scientists included a systematic review of scientific literature and so-called gray literature in search of interventions, effectively solving the problem of polypharmacy among the elderly in Europe.

Scientists from Lodz coordinated also a unique, large-scale benchmarking study of interventions to improve the management of politherapy and patient adherence in terms of their effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, applicability and scalability in all European Union countries, which results helped framing final guidelines of the SIMPATHY project. The results of the benchmarking were also used to develop an application that allows all those interested to compare their planned or implemented program to improve polytherapy management with other programs currently existing in the EU countries – SIMPATHY Benchmarking App.


On 29 May 2017, an international scientific meeting, summarizing the results of the SIMPATHY Project, took place at the Medical University of Lodz. Read report from that meeting in a journal of Polish National Doctors’ Chamber „Gazeta Lekarska”.

The results of the project will find practical applications in health policies set by European Union countries, and will be included in the curricula of higher medical schools.

More about the SIMPATHY Project can be found on the project website: