Benoit Cossette - A Pharmacist Serving Aging

Increased risk

Seeing a senior place a multicolour array of medications in front of his plate at mealtime is no longer a rare occurrence. Even if each medication is needed, absorbing all of them together can produce a cocktail with occasionally adverse effects. It is estimated that more than a third (37%) of medications taken by Canadian seniors are perhaps unnecessary. Physicians have found an increase in adverse drug effects which occasionally lead to death. Professor Cossette's expertise in the pharmacy and in epidemiology is therefore crucial to research on aging."Seniors are more likely to react adversely to medications than healthy adults," he said.

Heading toward deprescribing

A pharmacist by profession, Dr. Benoit Cossette became a researcher at the Research Centre on Aging (CDRV) in the empowerment[S1]  and the environment research axis.The professor and researcher, who has also worked five years for the pharmaceutical industry in conducting large-scale international studies, will bring his own contribution to research projects focused on the needs of patients."For example, we wish to study the impact of collaboration between hospital and community pharmacists to establish pharmaceutical intervention plans with seniors who are at risk," Dr. Cossette said.

The researcher explained that one of the stakes involves "deprescribing", meaning eventually managing to avoid prescribing or even discontinuing medications in the pharmacopeia prescribed to elderly patients.

A rich path

Originally from Gatineau, Dr. Cossette completed his studies in Montreal before settling down in Estrie. He discovered his passion for research while working at the CHUS. "Right in the middle of a C. difficile epidemic, we were seeking to identify the antimicrobials most commonly associated with this epidemic," he noted. This episode convinced him of the importance of conducting studies to develop cutting-edge knowledge.

During his post-doctoral studies, he notably participated in the development of knowledge transfer strategies which could help to lower the use of potentially unnecessary medications. At the CHUS, with Pharmacist Thomas Joy-Mischlich and Professor Jean-François Éthier's team, Dr. Cossette led projects based on electronic record data to generate computer-generated alerts to notify pharmacists of patients who are at risk.

At the Hôtel-Dieu, he contributed to the impact assessment of a system capable of scanning the clinical files of 125 patients within two minutes, whereas it would have taken a pharmacist 90 minutes per patient to fully assess a file manually. 

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