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Jenny Albano
Jenny Albano
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Drug Safety Becoming A Problem: Death From Drugs Increases

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Deaths and serious injuries from popular drugs has almost tripled from 1998 to 2005, an analysis of U.S. drug data found. Deaths and injuries from medications increased from 34,966 to 89,842 during the study of reports to the FDA.

They analyzed excerpts of reports on serious side effects received by the FDA between January 1998 and December 2005. A total of 467,809 serious complications were found. Reported deaths nearly tripled, rising from 5,519 to 15,107.

The study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine and drew from official Food and Drug Administration statistics. Its authors are Thomas Moore and Michael Cohen of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a nonprofit educational group that analyzes drug safety issues; and Dr. Curt Furberg of Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

Painkillers, such as Tylenol, represented a large number of the drugs that caused adverse side effects. This may be because many painkillers can be bought over-the-counter, and without prescriptions. Prescription medications used for arthritis, such as Vioxx and Celebrex, which have been linked to increased heart risk, were responsible for a number of deaths and injuries. So were powerful narcotic drugs, including Fentanyl and morphine.

The FDA stated that it is aware of the growing number of problems and does takes them seriously, but the reasons for the increase in deaths and serious injuries are not completely known.

The study concluded that the results show the importance of this public health problem and illustrate the need for an improved system to manage the risks of prescription drugs.

For more information on this subject, please refer to our section on Drugs, Medical Devices, and Implants.