News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • June 14, 2007
    AHRQ’s latest Healthcare 411 audio podcast (Reference: “Lab Tests,” June 6, 2007) features AHRQ Director Carolyn Clancy, M.D. discussing the importance of common blood tests and other screening tests. Lab tests can help monitor the effectiveness or possible adverse effects of some medicines. You can listen to the audio program directly through your computer if it has a sound card and speakers and can play MP3 audio files, or you can download it to a portable audio device. In any case, you will be able to listen at your convenience.
  • May 21, 2007
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is aware of a potential safety issue related to Avandia (rosiglitazone), a drug approved to treat type 2 diabetes. Safety data from controlled clinical trials have shown that there is a potentially significant increase in the risk of heart attack and heart-related deaths in patients taking Avandia. However, other published and unpublished data from long-term clinical trials of Avandia, including an interim analysis of data from the RECORD trial (a large, ongoing, randomized open label trial) and unpublished reanalyses of data
  • April 13, 2007
    In 2004, 1.2 million hospitalized patients experienced an adverse drug event, 90 percent of which were due to a side effect from a medication that was properly administered. Average total hospital costs for patients who experienced drug side effects or other adverse drug events were $10,100, compared with an average cost of $7,600 for patients who didn't experience adverse drug events.
  • March 29, 2007
    The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has launched a special web page to warn consumers about the dangers of buying isotretinoin (Accutane) online. Isotretinoin is a drug approved for the treatment of severe recalcitrant nodular acne that does not respond to antibiotics. Improperly used, isotretinoin can cause severe side effects, including birth defects. Serious mental health problems have also been reported with isotretinoin use. The URL is:
  • March 7, 2007
    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and The Advertising Council launched a national public service advertising (PSA) campaign designed to encourage adults to take a more proactive role in their health care. Research shows that consumers who get more involved with their health care can greatly improve the safety of their care, but patients are generally unaware of what to do to help prevent medical mistakes. According to a recent study conducted by AHRQ and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 57 percent of Americans do not believe that preventable medical errors occur often.
  • February 9, 2007
    The National Drug Control Policy, (ONDCP) released President Bush’s 2007 National Drug Control Strategy. The Administration’s new Strategy outlines a balanced strategy against illegal drugs, including support for programs that stop drug use before it starts, provide treatment for drug users, and disrupt the market for illegal drugs. According to the Monitoring the Future Study—the largest survey on teen drug use in the United States, as overall drug use has declined in America, prescription drug abuse, particularly among teens, remains troubling. Prescription drug abuse ranks
  • February 2, 2007
    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), has released new consumer and healthcare provider guides that summarize findings of an AHRQ comparative effectiveness review on osteoarthritis pain medications. The guides are written in plain language and draw on a review of 360 published studies. The consumer guide,”Choosing Pain Medication for Osteoarthritis,” summarizes the evidence on both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. It includes information on effectiveness, cost, and potential side effects for non-steroidal anti-


  • December 19, 2006
    The Food and Drug Administration proposed to amend the labeling regulations on over-the-counter (OTC) Internal Analgesic, Antipyretic, and Antirheumatic (IAAA) drug products to include important safety information regarding the potential for stomach bleeding and liver damage and when to consult a doctor. OTC IAAA drug products, commonly known as acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen and ketoprofen, are used to treat pain, fever, headaches, and muscle aches. Click for Questions and Answers
  • November 9, 2006
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting the public to a voluntary recall being conducted by Perrigo Company (Perrigo) of Allegan, Michigan for 383 lots of acetaminophen 500mg caplets manufactured and distributed under various store-brands as a result of small metal fragments found in a small number of these caplets. Approximately 11 million bottles containing varying quantities of acetaminophen 500mg caplets are affected by this recall. For a list of batches affected, please see
  • November 7, 2006
    While most prescription drugs marketed in the U.S. have been reviewed and approved as required by FDA, some unapproved prescription drugs are marketed by companies, prescribed by physicians, and taken by patients. Some unapproved drugs, such as phenobarbital, used to control seizures, are very important therapies in the treatment of significant medical conditions and appear to have benefits for patients, so patients should not stop taking an unapproved drug without talking to their doctor first to determine their best treatment options.