PHARMACY

Dems respond to FDA labeling proposal

BY Drew Buono

WASHINGTON A group of House and Senate Democratic leaders complained yesterday about a proposal by the Food and Drug Administration that would limit when drug and device companies can add warnings to product labels, according to published reports.

The lawmakers are concerned that the new rule would result in fewer company-initiated warnings, more drawn out agency reviews and a longer delay in informing the public about potential drug or device dangers.

In a letter to FDA commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, the lawmakers said current FDA rules give companies latitude to make needed changes. They said the new policy is restrictive and comes “at the expense of consumers and violates the mission of the FDA.”

“It is apparently designed to bolster the argument by companies defending against lawsuits that the regulations precluded them from adding contraindications, warnings, precautions and adverse reactions in the absence of FDA approval,” the lawmakers said.

They also said the FDA failed to identify a public health basis for the proposal, and asked the agency to provide them with a rationale.

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FDA halts clinical trial of ALS drug

BY Drew Buono

LOS ANGELES The Food and Drug Administration has told CytRx to stop its clinical trial of the drug arimoclomol, which is being developed to treat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, because of the need for additional analysis of previous animal studies involving the drug, according to published reports.

CytRx said in a release that it has asked for further clarification from the FDA, and said that “arimoclomol has been shown to be safe and well-tolerated after being administered to about 185 study volunteers.”

ALS is a progressive condition that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

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Study indicates that drive-through can distract pharmacists

BY Drew Buono

COLUMBUS, Ohio A new study in the International Journal for Quality in Health Care has indicated that pharmacists who work at stores with drive through windows are more likely to be distracted and those distractions can lead to processing delays, reduced efficiency and even dispensing errors.

The pharmacists who were surveyed reported that the design and layout of their workplaces has an impact on dispensing accuracy, especially the presence of drive-through window pick-up services. Results also indicate that automated dispensing systems in pharmacies are likely to reduce the potential for errors and enhance efficiency.

Even with stringent internal quality controls, pharmacists nationally make an estimated 5.7 errors per 10,000 prescriptions processed, according to the study, which translates to more than 2.2 million dispensing errors each year.

According to the survey, pharmacists perceive that the drive-through window has the biggest impact on causing pharmacists and their staff to take extra steps (average agreement response of 3.7 on a 5-point scale); reducing efficiency (average response of 3.8); and causing delays in prescription processing (average response of 3.7). The respondents also attributed dispensing errors (average response of 3.2) and communication errors (average response of 3.3) to the presence of a drive-through window.

“A pharmacist or staff member could be responsible for four or five tasks, and serving people at the drive-through window is just one of them,” said Sheryl Szeinbach, the study’s lead author. “Some people seeking the convenience of the drive-through window don’t care about getting information. They just want the medication, and they want it as fast as possible. They should probably think about that and at least look at the medication and make sure it’s OK. And if they have questions, it may behoove them to come into the pharmacy.”

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