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    FDA launches safe medication use initiative

    The FDA plans to work with the healthcare industry and the public as it develops new guidelines intended to prevent harm from medication use. The agency has also released a new safety guidance statement for OTC liquid-drug products.

    The agency announced the "Safe Use Initiative," a program for prevention of medication abuse, unintended exposure to prescription drugs such as opioids, and other medication errors, in early November.

    "Only through coordinated interventions across all sectors of the healthcare system can we substantially reduce preventable injuries from using medications," said Janet Woodcock, MD, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.

    To that end, the FDA will collaborate with healthcare professionals and "other stakeholders" to identify drugs and drug classes linked to preventable harm. Then the agency will develop a list of specific problems, cross-sector interventions for reducing harm from those problems, and metrics for success.

    Meanwhile, the FDA has released new requirements for manufacturers of OTC liquid products that are packaged with calibrated cups, droppers, syringes, and spoons. Some dosage-delivery devices are unclear or are inconsistent with the labeled dosing instructions, according to the agency.

    "Many accidental overdoses result from confusion about exactly how much of a drug to take. Better measuring devices will help patients, parents, and other caregivers use the right amount of these medications ... especially for children," Woodcock said.

    For information on the Safe Use Initiative, visit http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm187806.htm.

    Christine Blank, Contributing Editor
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

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