FDA Program Looks to Minimize Medication Misuse

Amidst the countless number of patients who are helped by medications, there are millions who are harmed by using them improperly. A new initiative from the FDA is seeking to do something about it. The Safe Use Initiative, announced early this month, is a program aimed at lowering the likelihood of preventable harm from the use of medications.

"Too many people suffer unnecessary injuries from avoidable medication misuse, errors, and other problems," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD. "The FDA is launching the Safe Use Initiative to develop targeted solutions for reducing these injuries."

To accomplish its goal, the FDA plans to collaborate with health care providers and other stakeholders in order to gain a good grasp of which drugs and drug classes are most often associated with preventable harm. The next steps in the initiative are slated to include a list of specific problems and the identification of cross-sector interventions for reducing harm from these problems.

A report entitled "FDA's Safe Use Initiative--Collaborating to Reduce Preventable Harm from Medicines" outlined these and other elements of the program, including risk reduction projects with the potential to benefit from Safe Use collaborations. Among them are the evaluation of patient education materials on medications, communication about the risk of inadvertent overexposure to acetaminophen, putting safeguards in place to prevent surgery fires caused by alcohol-based surgical preps, and avoiding contamination of multiple-use medication vials.

For more information, go to www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/ucm187806.htm.