News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • May 16, 2002

    At a New York City press conference today, NCPIE launched Phase II of its “Be MedWise” campaign, to coincide with the implementation date (May 16) of the new “Drug Facts” label required on most non-prescription medicines. NCPIE’s Ray Bullman (far right in photo below) was joined by the FDA’s Drs. Jonca Bull and Linda Katz; Ellen Shapiro (FDA), and NCPIE pharmacist advisor Linda Bernstein, Pharm.D., in lauding the revamped, simplified Drug Facts label.

  • May 8, 2002

    NCPIE, in conjunction with the Peter Lamy Center for Drug Therapy and Aging, Univ. of Maryland, will host a one-day conference on October 17, 2002: “High Tech-High Touch: Making the Connections to Improve Medicine Use for Older Adults.” Confirmed speakers include Bill Novelli, AARP’s Chief Executive Officer, and Carolyn Clancy M.D., Acting Director, AHRQ. The program will be held at the Bethesda (MD) Hyatt Regency.

  • April 26, 2002
    AARP, a founding and current member of NCPIE’s Board of Directors, launched a campaign to improve appropriate, cost-effective use of medicines. Their “Check Up on Your Prescriptions” campaign includes a "Wise Use” section on their website. Visitors are directed to NCPIE’s own website; to our “Prescription Medicines and You” brochure (published with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality); and to the NCPIE/FDA brochure about safe on-line purchasing of medicines.
  • April 12, 2002
    Rofecoxib (trade name: Vioxx), approved for treatment of osteoarthritis and pain, has won a supplemental indication for rheumatoid arthritis, the FDA announced. Further, the label will be modified to warn patients and health care professionals about certain gastrointestinal risks, and against chronic use of the medicine at a specific dosage. The geriatric section of the label will also be modified, the FDA notes.
  • April 9, 2002
    The FDA today issued a revised “Medication Guide” for Accutane with more safeguards to prevent prescriptions for women who are or may become pregnant. The FDA originally issued an Accutane “Med Guide” in January 2001.
  • March 12, 2002
    The nation’s health policy community is mourning the loss of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s director, John Eisenberg, M.D., who died on March 10 of a brain tumor. He was the federal official most reponsible for ensuring significant funding for patient safety research, and had coined his agency’s mantra, “TRIP” for “translating research into practice.” He had keynoted NCPIE’s national conference in May 2001; AHRQ was recently named to NCPIE’s Board of Directors.
  • March 8, 2002
    A guideline designed to improve patients' understanding of the degree of risk from medicines, developed by the European Union, may in fact lead to overstating one’s risk, U.K. researchers found. The guideline recommends the use of risk descriptions such as “very common” to “very rare.” People who relied on these qualitative descriptions greatly overstated their probability of experiencing a side effect, compared to people who read a numerical description of possible risk. One co-author of this study, discussed in The Lancet for 9 March 2002 as a “research letter,” is NCPIE member
  • March 6, 2002
    Almost one-fifth (19%) of adults reported having communication problems with their physician, but among Hispanic respondents, one-third (33%) had such problems. Almost one-fourth of African-Americans, and over one-fourth of Asian- Americans, reported having problems such as not understanding their doctor, or having questions they did not ask. Further, while 79% of African- American respondents said they understood information on prescription bottles, only 66% of Asian-American respondents and 64% of Hispanic resondents said they understood such information. “Diverse
  • February 20, 2002
    This announcement from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality urges that traditional would-be grantees, such as academic and other research organizations, partner with health plans, professional societies, consumer organizations and purchasers. Among AHRQ’s priorities for clinical interventions are the use of specific medications, technologies, or organizational or system interventions. One research question in the grant request is, “How can patients make effective use of their discussions with clinicians and participate in
  • January 17, 2002
    A detailed snapshot of Americans' medication use (prescription, OTC and dietary supplements) found that 81% used at least one medicine in the previous week; 50% took at least one Rx drug and 7% took five or more drugs. The four most frequently-used medicines were all OTCs, with acetaminophen ranking number one. The authors, whose study is in JAMA (Jan. 16), urge clinicians to ask about patients' use of dietary supplements, in particular, to help identify those at risk for potential interactions.