“Nearly 60 to 70 percent of us take at least one prescribed drug, depending upon the estimate; for many it amounts to a fistful, potpourri of pills per day. Meanwhile, new drug approvals have reached a 19-year high. It’s a mark cheered notably for the swift minting of medications to tackle so-called “orphan diseases,” rare conditions for which few or no treatment options exist. But critics say an expedited drug approval process is opening the door for riskier drugs – including many not proven to provide unique benefits over drugs already on the market.
Even as an opioid overdose crisis sweeps the country, another ubiquitous, insidious danger is hidden from view. There’s no formal process for quantifying injuries, hospitalizations or even deaths caused by therapeutic drug use – which excludes overdose or misuse. “Risk management begins with measuring things accurately, so you know what the threats are and the ones where you should be paying attention,” says Thomas J. Moore, senior scientist for drug safety and policy at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. But he notes that there’s no system in place or accepted methodology for developing these tallies for prescription drugs, unlike with overdoses. Health providers and consumers are encouraged to report adverse drug reactions to the Food and Drug Administration, and the agency can issue safety communications, require drug label warnings and pull drugs from the market, among other risk management measures. But the FDA says it’s unable to use the incomplete adverse event reporting data to quantify overall deaths that result from therapeutic drug use.” US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT