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The number of reports of dangerous side-effects, including deaths, from commonly used pharmaceuticals in the USA almost tripled between 1998 and 2005, a study claims.
FDA data reported in the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that the number of deaths and serious injuries from prescription and over-the-counter drugs jumped from 34,966 to 89,842 during the seven-year period.
Painkillers including Oxycontin® (oxycodone) were among the 15 drugs which caused the most deaths.
The report puts further pressure on the FDA to revise drug safety guidelines.
The study authors, from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, said: “This growing toll of serious injury shows that the existing system is not adequately protecting patients and underscores the importance of recent reports urging far-reaching legislative, policy and institutional changes.”
The FDA issued a statement saying it is aware of the growing number of reported problems and takes them seriously, but the reason for the increase “is not completely known”.
Dr Gerald Dal Pan, from the FDA’s surveillance and epidemiology office, added: “While some of this has to do with the increasing number of prescriptions, there are clearly other factors responsible for this increase, such as the increase in public attention to drug safety, and use of the internet to make it easier for the public to submit.”
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