Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Black box just sorta sounds bad, doesn't it?
Harvard did a study of 930,000 ambulatory care patients and found that 42% got prescriptions for drugs that carried Black Box Warnings (BBWs). As the scary name implies, this is the FDA’s strongest label for high-risk.
…Half of those people should have gotten a lab test before beginning the BBW med, but did not.
…Many of these patients should have gotten a pregnancy test, especially before starting on some BBW meds for skin problems.
…When patients were supposed to get continuous monitoring while taking the drug, about 12.8% did not get sent to the lab on a regular basis.
...Sometimes BBW drugs were handed out on the same visit with drugs that interacted badly with them.
…Concise and focused warnings, were better than vaguer mentions. HA totally gets that. Skull and crossbones and we’re done here.
An Emergency Department doc once told HA that all drugs have side effects, it's just that some have good side effects. Still, persist in discussing with your doctor. It's your body, not his or hers.
HA also discusses medications with her pharmacist. In the 1960s there were 600 drugs, now there are more than 8,000. Doctors usually have a list of medications they trust and dispense. The pharmacist keeps track of more and, to HA, more importantly, hears people's experiences with these substances. Ask. Most pharmacists have a private room for such palaver, if you are worried about people overhearing.