The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has published its draft report on a national action plan to reduce the incidence of adverse drug events (ADEs). Having gone to this length to draft this report, based on expert guidance and reams of supporting literature, says that the Federal government recognizes this very real problem of harm from medication use on a very large scale. This is a position change as compared to the GAO report in 2001 that seemed less convinced that ADEs were as serious a public health concern and not certain what could be done.
HHS targets three key medication classes to initiate a nationwide action plan, those classes beinganticoagulants, hypoglycemic drugs, and opiates.I’m surprised that they limit initial efforts to these three classes since we could easily add a couple targeted areas in the same initiative and further “move the needle” on the incidence of ADEs. Targeting the high use of NSAIDs in the older adult population and drug-drug interactions know to cause ER visits and hospitalizations is low-hanging fruit. Since all prescriptions come from a licensed pharmacy, it makes sense that pharmacists can be trained in ADE prevention and be incentivised to intervene by communicating recommendations for changes in drug therapies to prescribers, and also through effective patient education. The link to the report is below.