News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • March 5, 2003
    A rare study of non-institutionalized Medicare enrollees' prescription drug use, published in today’s Journal of the AMA, found that 42% of adverse drug events (ADEs) judged to be “serious, life-threatening or fatal” were deemed preventable. Of those preventable ADEs, over half occurred at the prescribing stage and at the monitoring stage. About one-fifth of the errors were due to patient adherence problems. The research involved an examination in 1999-2000 of nearly 28,000 Medicare enrollees in a New England medical group practice. To help reduce the
  • February 14, 2003
    An editorial in this week’s British Medical Journal observes that non- compliance “continues to represent a serious therapeutic deficit at the core of medical practice.” The authors note that “it is the patients' agendas” not those of healthcare professionals that determine whether or not patients will take medicines. The U.K.-preferred term for compliance, “concordance,” is defined as “an agreement between a patient and a health care professional about whether, when and how medicines are to be taken.” Further, the BMJ
  • February 6, 2003
    The Food and Drug Administration has mandated changes in labeling for antibiotics, according to a final rule issued today (Fed. Reg., pps. 6062-6081). The rule reflects “a growing concern in FDA” that unnecessary use of systemic antibacterials “has contributed to a dramatic increase in prevalence of drug- resistant bacterial infections.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of the 100 million antibiotic prescriptions written by office- based U.S. physicians are unnecessary. The new rule also encourages physician
  • January 30, 2003
    Following up with the FDA’s recent warning about buying medicines from outside the U.S. and from certain on-line pharmacies (see 10 Dec. 2002 item below), the American Pharmaceutical Association offers questions and answers for persons considering importing medicines.
  • January 21, 2003
    The U.S. Pharmacopeia (Rockville, MD) today issued tips for parents to help prevent medicine errors in children, especially if a child is going to be admitted as an inpatient. Knowing a child’s weight in kilograms, not just pounds; and sharing with health care professionals information about a child’s allergies and the names of all medicines a child is taking, can be lifesaving safety tips, according to USP.
  • January 17, 2003
    About 15% of 18-19-year-olds used prescription medicines non-medically, according to just- released 2001 data from the Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration, and the FDA. For persons aged 12-17, almost 8% reported using prescription medicines non- medically. At a Jan. 16 Washington, DC press conference, SAMHSA officials and FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan, M.D., announced that pain relievers were the most common category of prescription medicines that were abused by young adults. Together, the two agencies have


  • December 11, 2002
    Adherence rates of about 50% are common for many prescription medicine regimens. Improved communication, such as giving clear instructions and asking patients directly about “missing any pills in the past week,” can help promote adherence, Canadian researchers reported in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • December 11, 2002
    Nearly 30 years of scientific articles addressing interventions to improve medicine adherence were analyzed by Canadian researchers. Just under half of the interventions tested showed increases in adherence, while fewer reported improvements in treatment outcomes. The study appears in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • December 10, 2002
    The Food and Drug Administration urged consumers to avoid purchasing certain medications from outside the U.S., or from Internet pharmacies. Medicines on the FDA’s “Import Alert” list include Accutane, Clozaril, Lotronex, and others. Most of the affected medicines require patient "Medication Guides” with their distribution.
  • November 1, 2002
    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a NCPIE Board member that is part of HHS, today issued “20 Tips to Help Prevent Medical Errors in Children.” The majority of the tips address safe medicine use, and closely align with NCPIE messages to parents and caregivers over the years.