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12/7/1999

FDA Chief Calls for Pharmacists' Aid in Protecting Patients

Cherly A. Thompson

Pharmacists must ensure that patients receive not only the correct medication but also information about the risks of taking that medication, FDA Commissioner Jane E. Henney said Monday at the ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting. Furthermore, pharmacists must ensure that patients receive information about how to use their medications appropriately, she said.

Speaking to about 6000 people at the meeting's opening general session, Henney said that the role of pharmacists in informing patients about risks is "extremely important as we work together to protect the public health." The report released last week by The National Academies' Institute of Medicine (IOM), she said, underscores the fact that most injuries and deaths from medications are from known adverse effects.

The IOM report stated that thousands of Americans die each year from medication errors. In calling for a 50 percent reduction in medical errors over the next five years, the authors of the report proposed a four-part plan for improving the safety of health care systems.

The ASHP Midyear Clinical Meeting, with more than 16,000 attendees, continues through Thursday.

[Click here for ASHP's statement about the IOM report and an electronic link to the full report.]