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Last Updated
November 21, 2014
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August 7, 2014
Prescribing, Taking Antipsychotics, Sedatives, Anxiolytics, Antidepressants, or Stimulants: Take Care
Medications can improve the quality of life for many people, but they also carry the risk of
causing potentially harmful side effects. Dr. Lee Hampton, a medical officer with the Division of
Healthcare Quality Promotion, describes a recent CDC study estimating the number of adult emergency
department visits for adverse events caused by therapeutic use of antipsychotics, sedatives,
anxiolytics, antidepressants, and stimulants in the CDC Expert Commentary series on Medscape.

The study estimated that adverse events from antipsychotics cause more than 20,000 emergency
department visits each year, while adverse events from sedatives and anxiolytics cause more than
30,000 visits annually. The results provide a reminder that risks for serious side effects and the
availability of other treatment approaches should be considered before prescribing medications.
Visit CDC’s Medication Safety Program website to learn more about the study and adverse drug events.
August 1, 2014
Helping patients find and use prescription assistance programs
NCPIE serves as co-editor for a monthly column in Pharmacy Today (American
Pharmacists Association) The column is entitled “One-to-One” and is intended to help develop
pharmacists’ medication communication and counseling skills to promote safe and appropriate
medicine use.
July 31, 2014
Rx For Clarity: California Considers Bilingual Drug
Prescription medicine labels at most pharmacies in California are printed only in English,
potentially placing patients in danger of making any number of errors that can cause serious harm
or even death.  The California Board of Pharmacy is discussing new regulations that would require
all pharmacies in California to provide translated labels on prescription drug bottles. Statewide,
44 percent of Californians speak a language other than English at home. New York approved a similar
rule last year to make it easier for non-English speakers to take their medications properly and
avoid costly mistakes.

At present, the California Board of Pharmacy includes on its website translations of basic
instructions such as “take one pill at bedtime” in five languages: Chinese, Russian, Spanish,
Korean, and Vietnamese.
Proponents of translating labels say that concerns about the change are outweighed by the problems
patients who speak limited English face under the status quo.
July 18, 2014
Opioid Painkiller Prescribing -- Where You Live Makes a Difference
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes:   Consider these numbers:  

46         Each day, 46 people die from an overdose of prescription painkillers* in the US.
259 M  Health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012, enough for
every American adult to have a bottle of pills.
10        10 of highest prescribing states for painkillers are in the South.

Health issues that cause people pain don't vary much from place to place—not enough to explain why,
in 2012, health care providers in the highest-prescribing state wrote almost 3 times as many opioid
painkiller prescriptions per person as those in the lowest prescribing state in the US. Or why
there are twice as many painkiller prescriptions per person in the US as in Canada. Data suggest
that where health care providers practice influences how they prescribe. Higher prescribing of
painkillers is associated with more overdose deaths. More can be done at every level to prevent
overprescribing while ensuring patients' access to safe, effective pain treatment. Changes at the
state level show particular promise.  States can

•	Consider ways to increase use of prescription drug monitoring programs, which are state-run
databases that track prescriptions for painkillers and can help find problems in overprescribing.
Use of these programs is greater when they make data available in real-time, are universal (used by
all prescribers for all controlled substances), and are actively managed (for example, send alerts
to prescribers when problems are identified).

•	Consider policy options (including laws and regulation) relating to pain clinics (facilities that
specialize in pain treatment) to reduce prescribing practices that are risky to patients.

( * "Prescription painkillers" refers to opioid or narcotic pain relievers, including drugs such as
Vicodin (hydrocodone + acetaminophen), OxyContin (oxycodone), Opana (oxymorphone), and methadone.)
July 17, 2014
Manufacturers Against Funding Unused Medicine Take-back Programs
Current programs to dispose of unused medicines in the home are sufficient, argued representatives
of the pharmaceutical industry in appealing a provision put into place by a San Francisco-area
county that would place the burden of recapturing these medicines on the manufacturer.  Counsel for
the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, joined by the Biotechnology Industry
Organization and the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, last week participated in oral arguments
in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in appeal of the district court ruling in favor
of Alameda County's Safe Drug Disposal ordinance, which requires pharmaceutical companies to bear
the full burden of designing, funding and operating a collection program in the county for unused
medicines in the home. 
 
"This proposed approach is impractical, inefficient and reflects an attempt on the part of the
county to directly, significantly and unconstitutionally regulate companies whose connection with
Alameda is nothing more than having introduced federally-approved products into interstate
commerce," the associations stated." We support safe disposal of medications, and today consumers
have several options available to them that are considered safe and effective by both the FDA and
DEA. These methods include various means of convenient in-home disposal, as well as take back days
organized by local and national law enforcement agencies, among others."  Requiring manufacturers
to fund take-back sites is "unfair cost-shifting," the groups argued. "We remain confident in our
legal position, and look forward to continued collaboration with local leadership to address
patient safety and disposal concerns." (Source Drugstore News)