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FDA Targets Medication Usage Errors

by Toby Roberts on November 6, 2009

This week the FDA launched a program aimed at reducing the number of injuries caused by preventable medication errors. The FDA is currently working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to come up with accurate estimates of the number of deaths due to medication misuse.

A large area of concern is the possible interactions of over the counter medications.  On the heels of the reexamination of the appropriate 24-hour dosages of acetometaphine, the FDA wants to focus on informing consumers of appropriate dosages and making those dosages easier to determine. New guidelines have recently been issued for medications that come with measuring devices such as cups or droppers.

The Safe Use Initiative is aimed at cutting in half the estimated 100,000 hospitalizations that occur each year from accidental and intentional misuse of medication. The hope is that by combining consumer education efforts with examination and revision of package and instructional standards the potential for misuse will drop dramatically.


Union, Mo. Has just become the second town in the United States that will require a prescription for commonly used cold medications. Following in the footsteps of Washington, Mo., Union is attempting to curb the sales of cold medication to combat the town’s major problem with methamphetamine production and use.

Towns across the United States have taken action in recent years by moving medications that include pseudoephedrine, the major ingredient in methamphetamine, behind the pharmacy counters. Most require ID to buy the medications and some areas even record and limit the number of packages that individuals are allowed to buy.  Oregon is the only state with a state-wide prescription requirement for pseudoephedrine medications.

Critics suggest that the move will increase health care costs and be inconvenient to those who are used to getting the items over the counter. Pharmacists in the area say they have not heard any major outcry from consumers.  They note that most seem willing to put up with the inconvenience in the hope that it will curb the meth problem in their communities.


Rite Aid Changes Flu Shot Policy for Pregnant Women

by Toby Roberts on October 15, 2009

Rite Aid drug stores have recently decided to offer flu shots to pregnant women without a prescription. Up to this point the chain has required prescriptions despite the announcements that pregnant women are a part of the priority group for seasonal and H1N1 flu shots.

Although doctors recommend the shots, pregnant women traditionally have low vaccination rates because pharmacy vaccination programs tend to be hesitant to offer them. Since obstetricians do not vaccinate, requiring the prescription served only to make the process more difficult. [click to continue…]


Pharmacists Asked to Eye Mefloquine Prescriptions

by Toby Roberts on October 12, 2009

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an announcement to pharmacists regarding a recent number of Mefloquine prescriptions that have incorrectly instructed patients to take the 250 mg dose daily rather than weekly. Mefloquine is prescribed to treat malaria prophylaxis for individuals traveling abroad. [click to continue…]


Three states roll out auto-dispensing units

by Toby Roberts on May 1, 2009

Most recently tested in Vermont but also used in areas of Alaska and Montana, automatic dispensing units are increasing the flexibility of consumers to pick up their prescriptions. The machines allow a pharmacist in one location to dispense medications for patients over larger geographical areas.

The operation of the machines depends first on a pharmacist to fill the machines with commonly used medications such as antibiotics and inhalers. A registered pharmacy technician then operates the machine under the watchful eye of a live video feed. The machine can be placed in a clinic facility so that patients in rural areas don’t have to drive a long way to get their prescriptions filled. Patients can also take advantage of a video phone to have a consultation with the pharmacist about the medication so the potential for communication about risks and side effects is not lost.

Despite some concerns that the machines might take business away from pharmacists, physicians say that is not the case and that the machines make for happier patients. Many patients have become frustrated with long drives and long waits to receive medications. This program solves that problem and the patients are so far reporting an increase in convenience and cost savings since they don’t have to make long commutes to pharmacies out of their immediate area.

There are so far about 250 machines in use across the country. The makers of the machines add that it gives the pharmacist an increased ability to provide services for those outside their immediate area.

Those concerned about security need not worry. The dispensing units are locked, well-secured, and yes, they are bullet proof.


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