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David Mittleman
David Mittleman
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FDA Trying to Reduce Preventable Medical Error from Prescription and Over the Counter Drug Use

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Over 3 billion prescriptions are written annually in the United States, and tens of millions of people rely on prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to sustain their health. With such high numbers of drugs being used, the risk of preventable medical error from improper drug combination or the misuse of medication has led the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start the Safe Use Initiative.

As my Virginia-based colleague Greg Webb noted, the initiative calls upon doctors, health care professionals, and even patients to help the FDA identify specific, preventable medication risks and develop interventions to such risks. The initiative has a goal to implement some interventions within the first 12 months of the Initiative’s existence.

Among the target groups the Initiative seeks to protect is children. One study cited by the FDA found that over 9,000 children were exposed to prescription opioid drugs from 2003 to 2006. Just as startling was the fact that 60,000 emergency room visits occur annually as a result of unsupervised ingestion of medication by children under the age of 12.

Some of the changes consumers can expect will be better information of the prescription and OTC drugs they take, including the proper dosage to take along with calibrated spoons or cups that are easier to read and correspond with the product’s packaging.