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ASHP Applauds FDA Progress on Bar Coding Proposal

During a session at ASHP’s Midyear Clinical Meeting today in New Orleans, Bobby Jindal, assistant secretary for planning and evaluation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to require bar coding on all prescription drug labels in an effort to help reduce medication errors. The Food and Drug Administration announced in today’s Federal Register its intent to develop a proposed rule.

"We are encouraged to see that the FDA is taking steps to ensure this vitally needed safeguard is in place to protect patients," said ASHP Executive Vice President and CEO Henri R Manasse Jr., Ph.D., Sc.D. "Bar coding is an essential step in ensuring that the right patient gets the right medicine every time."

ASHP sent a strongly worded letter to Tommy Thompson, secretary for HHS in July stressing the immediate need for regulations requiring standardized machine-readable code on all drug product containers, including single-dose medication packages used in hospitals. 

The Society is a member of the National Coordinating Council for Medication Error Reporting and Prevention, which released a white paper in July, "Promoting and Standardizing Bar Coding on Medication Packaging: Reducing Errors and Improving Care."