PHARMACY

Harvard program seeks to discourage doctors from prescribing pediatric antibiotics

BY Drew Buono

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. A program was conducted at the Harvard Medical School in an effort to change doctors’ prescribing habits for antibiotics and to educate parents of small children about the proper use of antibiotics, according to Reuters.

The program was initiated because of the emergence of microbes that are resistant to antibiotics because doctors prescribed the medications when they weren’t really needed.

Harvard Medical School’s Jonathan Finkelstein and colleagues conducted the program in 16 Massachusetts communities between 1988 and 2003. Finkelstein’s team measured changes in antibiotic prescribing rates among three groups of children: 3 to 24 months, 24 to 48 months, and 48 to 72 months.

By the end of the study, the intervention had not changed the rate of antibiotic use in the youngest group, but for children between 24 and 48 months, the rates decreased by 4.2 percent and for the oldest children, the rates decreased by 6.7 percent.

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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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