FDA to investigate adverse drug interactions

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration soon will have the authority to analyze prescription and other health records of Medicare beneficiaries. The reason? To ensure the safety of drugs and medical equipment, the Department of Health and Human Services announced late last week.

Nursing homes, physicians and other healthcare providers are currently relied upon to report adverse drug interactions to the FDA for investigation. Only 1% to 10% of all problems with drugs and equipment are revealed through such self-reporting, according to the Los Angeles Times. The hope is that the new initiative, dubbed "Sentinel" by its creators, will allow the FDA and other healthcare officials to better track problems with adverse drug reactions.

Medicare pays out more than $900 million for the treatment of preventable medical conditions caused by adverse drug interactions, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Kerry Weems. He said he hopes the "Sentinel" program will help free up funds for other beneficiary programs.