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New FDA guidelines target medication errors

The FDA is taking steps to the reduce the risk of medication error, which is a leading cause of harm for New Mexico residents seeking medical assistance. The new measures consist of guidelines for manufacturers to clarify labeling and make packaging more user-friendly. Through this action, the FDA may mitigate some of the leading causes of prescription errors.

The FDA is implicitly acknowledging with new rules for product names and labels that similar names play a large role in medication errors. The Institute of Safe Medicine Practices believes that sound-alike names as well as those that look alike are a problem. Submissions to the FDA by drug manufacturers will now include a thorough review of proposed drug names, category of use, end-use labels and other relevant factors.

The second step taken to reduce medication errors calls on drug developers to design products with the end dosage in mind. This includes a consideration of the most likely settings for a drug's use. Drugs with easier to understand dosages and less frequent dosing, for instance, would be more suited for home use. Medications with more complex dosing patterns would be more suited for clinical settings.

Medication mistakes can be made at any step of the process, from manufacturing to end use. Clarity regarding names and an increased focus on designing for the safety of patients could greatly reduce the risk to patients of serious injury or death. While the steps by the FDA are positive, patients still run the risk of injury at the hands of a negligent pharmacist or physician. People who have been harmed by prescription medication errors may want to discuss their situation with a medical malpractice attorney.

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