Prevalence and effects of polypharmacy on overall survival in acute myeloid leukemia

Prajwal Dhakal, Elizabeth Lyden, Kate Lynn E. Muir, Zaid S. Al-Kadhimi, Thuy Koll, Lori J. Maness, Krishna Gundabolu, Vijaya Raj Bhatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Polypharmacy, usually defined as taking ≥5 prescribed medications, increases chances of drug–drug interactions and toxicities, and may harm cancer patients who need multiple chemotherapeutic agents and supportive medications. We analyzed the effects of polypharmacy in overall survival (OS) in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). A total of 399 patients were divided into two groups: patients with polypharmacy (≥5 medications) versus without polypharmacy (<5 medications). Polypharmacy was associated with age ≥60 years, Karnofsky Performance Status of ≤80, hematopoietic cell transplant (HCT) comorbidity index of ≥5, and adverse cytogenetics. Patients with polypharmacy were less likely to receive intensity chemotherapy or HCT. One-year OS of patients with polypharmacy versus those without polypharmacy was 29 vs. 49% (p<.001). Polypharmacy conferred worse OS in patients <60 years (37 vs. 65% at 1 year, HR 1.95, 95% CI 1.21–3.15) but not in patients ≥60 years (26 vs. 27% at 1 year, HR 1.12, 95% CI 0.81–1.57). Thus, polypharmacy has negative impact on OS in AML, particularly among patients aged <60 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1702-1708
Number of pages7
JournalLeukemia and Lymphoma
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 6 2020


  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • medications
  • overall survival
  • polypharmacy
  • prognosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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