Will a Pharmacist-Only Drug Class Cut Errors?

Pharmacy Times
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Health care experts responsible fordeveloping new systems to preventmedication errors should considergranting the nation's pharmacists abroader role in monitoring patientdrug use, officials at the AmericanPharmacists Association (APhA) said.

In comments submitted to the Instituteof Medicine's (IOM) Committeeon Identifying and Preventing MedicationErrors, the APhA officials said that,in order to reduce the economic andhealth problems associated with drugmistakes, "the pharmacist's role as amedication therapy management expertmust be recognized and fully utilizedwithin the health care system." The pharmacy group specifically askedthe IOM to consider whether the current2-class system of drugs—prescriptionand OTC—still serves the needs ofthe nation's health care system.

The association officials suggestedthat "expanding the classes toinclude?a ‘pharmacist-only'class" fornonprescription medicines could "leadto a safer medication use system." They also urged IOM officials to considerrecommending an additionalnew drug class "with pharmacistauthority to authorize refills under ateam-based approach to care."

According to the APhA officials, theepidemic of medication errors currentlybeing experienced throughout theUnited States stems at least in partfrom the nation's outmoded system ofdrug regulation. "Medications havebecome a primary form of treatment intoday's health care system," but "weare using them with regulations andpractice standards that were developed50 to 150 years ago," the officials said.

Mr. Rankin is a freelance medical writer.

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