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A study done by The Institute for Safe Medication Practices recently identified a record number of serious injuries and deaths associated with drug therapy the first quarter of 2008. As consumers, the following information is surprising concerning our safety.

This report, called the QuarterWatch, uses information reported to the FDA. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices found 20,745 new cases reported serious injuries (38% higher than the average for the past four quarters & the highest for any quarter reported in a calendar quarter since 2006). 4,824 deaths related to drugs were reported. This was a 2.6 fold increase from the previous quarter. There were also 1,465 of all cases of serious injuries attributed to identifiable medication errors.

Verenicline, an aid to help stop smoking, accounted for the most reported serious injuries compared to other prescription drugs, totaling 1,001 of the new cases. Verenicline accounted for 50 deaths. FDA released a public health advisory regarding varenicline. FDA warned people taking varenicline about possible side effects including severe changes in mood and behavior.

The second ranked drug with serious injuries was heparin. Heparin was the subject of a major product recall after a potential lethal contaminant was traced to suppliers in China. FDA received 779 reports of serious injuries from heparin, including 102 deaths.

According to The Institute for Safe Medication Practices, reactions to these drugs include disruptions in heart rhythm, suicide and self injury, and drug dependence and withdrawal. The drugs associated with these reactions were: suicide/self injury (varenicline—226 cases; oxyCODONE—89 cases; and acetaminophen/HYDROcodone—87 cases); hemorrhage ( Clopidogrel—170 cases; Warfarin—161 cases; and heparin –88 cases); and angioedema (Heparin—103 case; Pregabalin—58 cases; and Varenicline—52 cases).

Our safety and health is critical, especially when many of us take prescription drugs. It is important that you, as a consumer, are aware of the risks and side effects of each prescription drug you take.

For those who have sustained serious injuries and/or sickness from prescription drugs you may want to contact the attorneys at Childers, Buck, and Schlueter to see how they can help protect your legal rights.

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