News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • 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.
  • January 17, 2002
    A new consumer brochure and web page, developed by the FDA, help users of dietary supplements evaluate a variety of information and medical claims, offer questions to ask health care professionals, and ways to check common assumptions.


  • December 14, 2001
    Among community-dwelling elderly, researchers found that over one-fifth received at least one potentially inappropriate medicine in 1996. While use of inappropriate medicines did decline from 1987-1996, researchers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality concluded that this remains “a serious problem.”
  • November 26, 2001
    The possibility of new label requirements for certain prescription and non- prescription medicines was discussed at mid-Nov. meeting between the FDA and the National Transportation Safety Board. The NTSB has recorded thousands of vehicle accidents, resulting in 100 deaths, all linked to the driver’s use of such medications as antihistamines, muscle relaxants, painkillers, anti-anxiety drugs and anti-depressants. The FDA may announce policy actions within one year. NCPIE has always urged consumers to ask their health care
  • November 5, 2001
    The FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research has posted the most current news and scientific recommendations about dealing with anthrax and bioterrorism. This includes information about appropriate use of antibiotics, and prescribing information for the antibiotics being used to treat cases of confirmed and suspected anthrax. CDER also issued warnings about purchasing Cipro from illegal websites.
  • October 23, 2001
    This government weblink, updated several times a week, represents a compilation of the latest scientific news and public health warnings on bioterrorism.
  • October 1, 2001
    The American Academy of Pediatrics released a new policy statement calling for pediatricians “to educate themselves about the diagnosis and treatment of acetaminophen toxicity.” As a non- prescription medicine that parents often give to infants and children without direct advice from health care professionals, the AAP recommends that pediatricians give specific written information about acetaminophen to parents at well-child visits.
  • September 4, 2001
    "Educate Before You Medicate: Your Prescription for Good Health” is the theme for the October 2001 observance of NCPIE’s “Talk About Prescriptions” Month. This marks the 16th observance of “TAP,” in which over 150 members of the NCPIE coalition are expected to participate.
  • September 4, 2001
  • August 27, 2001
    Since 1999, a European directive has madated the provision of patient leaflets inside the boxes of prescribed medicines. NCPIE member Theo Raynor (Univ. of Leeds, UK) and a colleague found that one-fifth of patients failed to notice the package insert; of those who did, only 21% read the entire leaflet. Raynor notes that the U.S. system of computer- generated leaflets, which promotes customization and the opportunity for direct patient counseling by the pharmacist, is much better aligned with promoting “concordance” among patients and health care professionals.