News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • January 22, 2009
    Clinical pharmacy services can significantly help curb prescription drug spending and other healthcare costs, according to a new study. According to the University of Illinois at Chicago, for every dollar spent by hospitals and health systems to provide clinical pharmacy services, $4.81 was saved by the resulting lower drug costs, reductions in adverse drug events and medication errors, and other savings. The researchers examined 93 studies on clinical pharmacy services from 2001 through 2005. “This is pretty consistent with the savings we have seen in
  • January 14, 2009
    The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched the Medicare PHR Choice Pilot in Arizona and Utah. This pilot program will offer beneficiaries with Original Medicare the opportunity to choose one of the personal health record (PHR) products offered by the companies selected for the pilot. PHRs will allow beneficiaries to maintain their health record information electronically and Medicare will add claims data directly to the PHRs for this pilot. PHRs are tools that can help consumers keep track of information that will make it easier to manage their health
  • January 6, 2009
    More Americans are burdened by chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure, often having more than three at a time, and this has helped fuel a big rise in out-of-pocket medical expenses. With prescription drugs playing a key role, average annual out-of-pocket medical costs — those not covered by health insurance — rose from $427 per American in 1996 to $741 in 2005, researchers wrote in the journal Health Affairs. The findings were based on nationally representative surveys of about 32,000
  • January 5, 2009
    In this study of community-dwelling older adults, prescription and nonprescription medications were commonly used together, with nearly 1 in 25 individuals potentially at risk for a major drug-drug interaction. Design, Setting, and Participants: Three thousand five community-residing individuals, aged 57 through 85 years, were drawn from a cross-sectional, nationally representative probability sample of the United States. In-home interviews, including medication logs, were administered between June 2005 and


  • December 16, 2008
    A study released today by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that the printed consumer medication information (CMI) voluntarily provided with new prescriptions by retail pharmacies does not consistently provide easy-to-read, understandable information about the use and risks of medications. The study, Expert and Consumer Evaluation of Consumer Medication Information, showed that while most consumers (94 percent) received CMI with new prescriptions, only about 75 percent of this information met the minimum criteria for usefulness as
  • December 15, 2008
    The Center for Improving Medication Management
  • November 25, 2008
    Comments on a study examining the impact on consumer comprehension of inclusion of a toll-free number to report side effects in direct-to-consumer (DTC) prescription drug television advertisements are being sought by FDA. The study will examine the placement of the toll-free statement and the length of time the statement is presented on-screen in a DTC television advertisement for a prescription drug. Federal Register Pre-Publication Notice
  • October 31, 2008
    More and more U.S. children are being given drugs to fight chronic conditions such as asthma and hyperactivity, according to a study published on Monday. From 2002 to 2005 prescriptions for medicines to treat type-2 diabetes doubled, asthma medications rose by more than 46 percent, medicines for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder increased by more than 40 percent and prescriptions for cholesterol-lowering drugs were up by 15 percent. The study was conducted by Emily Cox of Express Scripts Inc. in St. Louis, a manager of pharmacy insurance
  • October 23, 2008
    A record number of deaths and serious injuries associated with drug therapy were reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the first quarter of 2008. Serious injuries associated with drug therapy reached a total of 20,745 new cases; reported deaths totaled 4824 cases, a 2.6 fold increase from the previous quarter. In addition, varenicline (Chantix, Champix), an aid to stopping smoking, accounted for more reported serious injuries than any other prescription drug for a second quarter, a total of 1001 new cases, including 50 additional deaths. Varenicline was
  • October 23, 2008
    Half of U.S. doctors report using placebos several times a month, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). However, nearly 70% of those that use placebos described the treatment to their patients as “a potentially beneficial medicine not typically used for your condition.” Only 5% of doctors explicitly called it a placebo treatment. Most doctors used actual medicines as a placebo treatment: 41% used painkillers, 38% used vitamins, 13% used antibiotics, 13% used sedatives, 3% used saline injections and 2% used sugar pills.