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Drugs

Drugs

Americans have suffered and lost their lives because they are not given ALL information about risks by either manufacturers or the FDA. Pharmaceutical companies should be accountable for safety problems, and not keep drug risks hidden from the public. Medical device companies should respond to malfunctioning implants.

Consumers Union Documents

Consumers Union News Releases

Blog Posts

  • Rethinking the use of Morcellators on Women

    A morcellator is a medical device that seems like it was developed in medieval times as an instrument of torture. But it is actually marketed and used to grind up tissue during laparoscopic hysterectomies and uterine fibroid removal. It becomes problematic if the tissue being shredded is cancerous. The FDA recently issued a safety alert stating, “Morcellating these tumors can spread cancerous tissue internally and significantly worsen the odds of long-term survival.

  • Patient safety activists react to USA Today story on seniors and Rx drugs

    This week’s USA Today story about the problem of overprescribing serious narcotics and pain killers to seniors touched a nerve with Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project activists. According to the story, “hundreds of thousands of the nation’s seniors are misusing prescription drugs, including narcotic painkillers, anxiety medications and other pharmaceuticals, for everything from joint pain Continue Reading

  • We’re live blogging at Selling Sickness!

    Consumers Union’s Safe Patient Project is here in DC at the Selling Sickness conference, and we’ll be live blogging speaker panels while we’re here. Just come back to this page to see our live updates.

  • Heartbreaking news: Child discovers 2nd recall connected to her defibrillator

    9-year-old child, Avery de Groh, faces a scary situation: having a recalled defibrillator which the family found out by accident. This is the second time that Avery’s family has been affected by a recalled defibrillator. Last year, Avery’s mother, Molly, shared her daughter’s story about how she was shocked by a defective defibrillator at age three and thought monsters were attacking her. Her device was later recalled by the manufacturer.

  • Advocates share medical device dangers in presentation at University of Texas

    Medical device safety advocates, Lana Keeton and Joleen Chambers, share their personal stories of medical device harm and the need to be informed, in a presentation at the University of Texas in Austin.

News Articles

Research and Reports

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (November 2013)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Thursday October 31, 2013)

    Summary from John James: “The devastation wrought by hurricane Sandy leaves us full of empathy for those who lost loved ones and homes. When disaster unfolds suddenly, we notice it as the news media graphically magnifies the events on our TVs. The disaster that comprises much our medical industry quietly unfolds as medical errors occur in hospitals spread across the nation, and no one is there to produce graphic images of the death and suffering. In an attempt to display some of the suffering, my November newsletter begins with a review of the book “Unaccountable” by Marty Makary, MD. I was not fully aware of the endemic nature of the dangers lurking in hospitals.

    The first two articles deal with medical errors – the first on diagnostic errors and the second on errors of omission. On page 3 I take a look at recent misdeeds of big Pharma, and then deal with ethical issues associated post-marketing drug testing on patients. A business model suggests that providers should start giving us what we really want – health – not medical care. Finally, we have a look at why hospital prices continue to escalate. I hope you find these stories informative.”

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (October 2013)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Wednesday October 2, 2013)

    Summary from John James: “These are frustrating days in our country because it seems that anyone left in the middle ground on major political issues is rare, or at least they dare not speak. As we chide Congress for its ineptness, we must acknowledge that we put those people there, and in most cases they reflect what we want.

    This month I was honored to have my new estimate of harm to hospitalized patients, which was published in the September issue of the Journal of Patient Safety (http://journals.lww.com/journalpatientsafety/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=2013&issue=09000&article=00002&type=abstract), picked up Marshall Allen of Pro Publica (http://www.propublica.org/article/how-many-die-from-medical-mistakes-in-us-hospitals). He brought validity to my estimate by asking MDs in the patient safety community what they thought of my work. I have marked his and other sources that wrote about the new estimate with an asterisk in my “SitesLinks” collection this month. There are many examples of medical care gone bad.

    October’s newsletter deals with 1) over-diagnosis of mental illness, 2) the secrets of the medical industry, 3) how unintended consequences can occur when physician performance is measured, 4) the death toll on women from painkillers, 5) the need to stop calling so many things cancer, and 6) the issues associated with high blood pressure and too much sodium.”

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (September 2013)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Wednesday August 28, 2013)

    John James’ summary: “Young children often grow up in a world where everything is about their needs, both perceived and real. Wise parents work against this self-centered worldview so that by the time children become adults, they understand that they are not the center of the universe. There is one circumstance where this view must be discouraged – medical care. When receiving medical care you should be the center of all that can be reasonably done for your wellbeing – with you giving informed permission for anything invasive.

    In reality, medical care, although headed in the direction of patient-centered care, has a long way to go. My newsletter’s first article demonstrates this reality. The second suggests that intense care is not usually patient-centered for critically ill patients; furthermore, the money we spend on medical care can be misspent, in part due to the fee-for-service scheme that doctors prefer. The third article describes how stress from medical bills can become pervasive, especially for the uninsured.

    The fourth article slams the FDA for not enforcing a law that requires drug makers to do additional testing of their drugs, and a fifth criticizes Congress for not requiring stronger control of compounding companies. The newsletter ends with an article on regulating those who could misinterpret images, and with another article on cancer-drug makers who downplay the side effects of their potent products.”

  • 2014-2015 Targeted Medication Safety Best Practices for Hospitals
    Source: ISMP (Thursday December 12, 2013)

    Institute for Safe Medication Practices report on medication safety best practices for hospitals.

  • Patient Safety America Newsletter (April 2013)
    Source: Patient Safety America (Sunday March 31, 2013)

    Summary by John James: “Changes are long overdue in American healthcare as pointed out by the Institute of Medicine and National Research Council in their new book “The US health Disadvantage Relative to Other High-income Countries.” My first newsletter article attempts to summarize this report. In the second article I discuss the risks associated with sleeping pills. The third article considers legislation that often has collateral damage. The fourth involves one doctor’s view of how he was led into care that was not patient centered. My next two articles deal with mental health: 1) As we age, we all fear the loss of mental capabilities, but a new study has linked mid-life fitness with a reduction in the risks of dementia. 2) Young people often do not have access to mental health facilities as pointed out by experts writing in the JAMA. The next articles deal with unintended death from pharmaceuticals and with loss of confidence in drug companies. The newsletter concludes with a short piece on the vanishingly small value of robotic surgery for those who might need a hysterectomy.”