What we hope not to see in 2013

With 2012 in the books, we start our latest post by wishing our readers a happy and prosperous New Year. With that said, we look back on pharmaceutical issues  that we hope not to see in 2013.

Drug shortages - Hospitals experienced shortages of important medicines to treat cancer, subdue chronic pain and treat viruses. This included commonly used antibiotics and anesthetics, as well as emergency medicines. Congress passed legislation to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the authority to address these issues. Nevertheless, we hope that drug shortages do not become an issue in 2013.

Deaths due to pain killers - According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) deaths due to drug abuse have increased by 300 percent since 1990. Of those deaths, pain killers have been the dominant culprit. Overdoses on OxyContin and Vicodin have become more common, and these drugs are increasingly dangerous when combined with other medications and alcohol.

Vaccination issues - The CDC reported an unusual number of pertussis (whooping cough) cases in 2012. Analysts are reviewing whether the trend is based on vaccine refusal, or whether children were receiving the wrong type of vaccine. The Institute of Safe Medication Practices will track vaccine errors to discover whether changes will be helpful.

Meningitis outbreaks - A fungal meningitis outbreak occurred in October that led to 600 people being hospitalized and 39 people losing their lives across 19 states. The FDA labeled it as the worst drug-related health disaster since 1937. Calls for a new system where pharmacies undergo regular inspections (like drug manufacturers) make lead to wholesale changes.

Source: Philly.com, 2012's top 10 drug safety stories, December 24, 2012

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