News you can use: health & drug safety updates


  • June 14, 2006
    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) today launched a nationwide health professional education campaign aimed at reducing the number of common but preventable sources of medication mix-ups and mistakes caused by the use of unclear medical abbreviations. The campaign focuses on eliminating the use of potentially confusing abbreviations by healthcare professionals, medical students, medical writers, the pharmaceutical industry and FDA staff. The campaign will address the
  • May 22, 2006
    An independent panel convened by the NIH Office of Medical Applications of Research and the Office of Dietary Supplements assessed the available evidence on the safety and effectiveness of multivitamin/minerals (MVMs). The panel made recommendations regarding certain specific supplements but ultimately concluded that more rigorous scientific research is needed before strong recommendations can be made regarding MVM use to prevent chronic diseases. The panel’s findings pertain to the generally healthy population, and do not include pregnant women, children, or those with disease.
  • May 4, 2006
    Medicaid spending for outpatient prescription drugs increased by 20 percent per year on average from 1997 to 2002, jumping from $11.6 billion to $23.7 billion during that period, according to a new study by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The increase reflects a rise in both the number of prescriptions written for Medicaid enrollees-from 301 million in 1997 to 429 million in 2002-and the rapid uptake of newer classes of drugs, which are often more expensive The increase also reflected rapidly growing spending on behalf of
  • April 26, 2006
    FDA notified healthcare professionals and patients that cases of breathing problems, some causing death, have been reported to the FDA when the drug was used in children less than two years old. Parents and caregivers should also be careful and get a doctor’s advice about giving promethazine HCl in any form to children age two and older. The labeling on all products, brand name and generic, has been changed to reflect these strengthened warnings.
  • April 25, 2006
    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lacks a clear and effective process for making decisions about and providing management oversight of post-marketing drug safety issues, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said today. There is a lack of criteria for determining what safety actions to take and when to take them,” GAO stated. Squabbling between FDA’s Office of New Drugs (OND), the office that approves the marketing of medications, and the Office of Drug Safety (ODS), which oversees post-marketing safety reviews, has hindered the
  • March 13, 2006
    The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising healthcare professionals and consumers that filling U.S. prescriptions abroad may give patients the wrong active ingredient for treating their health condition. Some FDA-approved products have the same brand names as drug products that are marketed outside the U.S. but contain completely different active ingredients. In addition, 105 U.S. brand names are so similar to foreign brand names used for products with different active ingredients that patients who fill prescriptions abroad may inadvertently get
  • January 30, 2006
    There is a new, potential alternative for many of the more than 5 million Americans who take insulin injections, with the Food and Drug Administration’s approval today of the first ever inhaled insulin. Exubera, an inhaled powder form of recombinant human insulin (rDNA) for the treatment of adult patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, is the first new insulin delivery option introduced since the discovery of insulin in the 1920s. Diabetes is a disease that affects the amount of insulin and sugar in your body.
  • January 18, 2006
    The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled a major revision to the format of prescription drug information, commonly called the package insert (PI), to give healthcare professionals clear and concise prescribing information. In an effort to manage the risks of medication use and reduce medical errors, the newly designed PI will provide the most up-to-date information in an easy-to-read format that draws physician and patient attention to the most important pieces of drug information before a product is prescribed. The new format will also make


  • December 21, 2005
    As a result of research efforts led by Barry D. Weiss, MD, University of Arizona College of Medicine, health-care providers soon will have access to a new tool designed to assess a patient’s health literacy skills quickly and simply. Knowing if a patient can understand and act on health information enables the healthcare provider to tailor their communication and enhance patient understanding. Dr. Weiss and his team of researchers, working in collaboration with colleagues at the Univ. of North Carolina, have developed the Newest Vital Sign (NVS),
  • December 20, 2005
    The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a non-voting member of the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) board of directors, has released a five-minute Web video called “Tips for Taking Medicines Safely,” which features information to help consumers take their medicines safely and appropriately. Tips covered in the video include asking questions if you have doubts or concerns about your medicine; bringing a bag with all the medicines you take to your medical appointments; and asking about side