SOLUTIONS FOR NATIONAL DRUG SHORTAGES: A drug shortage may compromise and delay treatments, leading to the progression of diseases, adverse outcomes or therapeutic failures. While this is a complex problem that will require a multi-pronged approach to solve, there is evidence that advance notification of potential problems can help prevent or resolve drug shortages. Today, the AMA voted to require manufacturers of FDA approved drugs to give the agency at least 6 months notice, or as soon as is practicable, of anticipated voluntary or involuntary, permanent or temporary, discontinuance of the manufacture or marketing of such a product. The policy also supports the creation of a task force to enhance the HHS Secretary’s response to preventing and mitigating drug shortages and to create a strategic plan to address ongoing aspects of drug shortages.
“National drug shortages often prevent patients from getting the right drugs at the right time, threatening patient care and safety,” said AMA board member Patrice A. Harris, M.D. “The AMA is committed to solving this complex problem, and we will continue to work with stakeholders to advocate for solutions that protect the health of our patients.”
PROMOTING PREVENTION OF FATAL OPIOID OVERDOSE: Opioid addiction and prescription drug abuse places a great burden on patients and society, and the number of fatal poisonings involving opioid analgesics more than tripled between 1999 and 2006. Naloxone is a drug that can be used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose. The AMA today adopted policy to support further implementation of community-based programs that offer naloxone and other opioid overdose prevention services. The policy also encourages education of health care workers and opioid users about the use of naloxone in preventing opioid overdose fatalities.
“Fatalities caused by opioid overdose can devastate families and communities, and we must do more to prevent these deaths,” said Dr. Harris. “Educating both physicians and patients about the availability of naloxone and supporting the accessibility of this lifesaving drug will help to prevent unnecessary deaths.”
UPDATING MAMMOGRAPHY SCREENING RECOMMENDATIONS: Mammography is the most reliable breast cancer screening tool for the general population, but it also has limitations. As a result, several organizations have recommended various mammography screening guidelines. Today, the AMA has adopted policy that starting at age 40, all women should be eligible for screening mammography. The policy also supports insurance coverage for this screening.
“Early detection of breast cancer increases the odds of a patient’s survival, and mammography screenings are an important tool in discovering this cancer,” said Dr. Harris. “All patients are different and have varying degrees of cancer risk, and patients should regularly talk with their doctors to determine if mammography screening is right for them.”
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About the American Medical Association (AMA)
The American Medical Association helps doctors help patients by uniting physicians nationwide to work on the most important professional, public health and health policy issues. The nation’s largest physician organization plays a leading role in shaping the future of medicine. For more information on the AMA, please visit www.ama-assn.org.
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