NPSF makes safe use of pharmaceuticals a national health priority

Chicago, IL -- Three billion prescriptions will be written for patients in 1999, according to FDA estimates. With medication use steadily rising each year, the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF) has launched an initiative to reduce the risk of medication error. The Pharmaceutical Safety Initiative, led by the NPSF, focuses on redesigning medication practices so that every patient can use medications more safely.

According to Eleanor Vogt, R.Ph., Ph.D., NPSF Senior Fellow, "We need to redesign our medication practices - from bench to bedside and into the home - so that every patient receives the optimal medicine in the right amount, with efficient monitoring, understanding interactions and promptly recognizing, treating, and ultimately preventing adverse reactions".

Since the issues are complex, broad cooperation is needed across the health care system to affect this change. The initiative involves health care workers, researchers, regulators, hospital and ambulatory care clinicians, lawyers and legislators -- all working together with both patients and professionals to improve pharmaceutical safety.

Over five months, during the initial phase of the Pharmaceutical Safety Initiative, interviews, surveys and a workshop were conducted so that participants from all areas of health care could identify problems and opportunities, and develop a list of priorities for further action. Some of the problems identified include the lack of national leadership, lack of collaboration, widely divergent perceptions of medication risks and benefits, insufficient knowledge and inadequate education, across the various aspects of health care.

The initial phase of the project was made possible by the NPSF, and a public/private partnership reflected in a major grant from Pfizer, Inc, with additional support from Bristol-Myers Squibb Research Institute, CVS, DuPont Pharmaceuticals Company, Janssen Pharmaceutica, the US Food and Drug Administration, and Warne

Contact: Dawn McGinley
National Patient Safety Foundation

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