Michigan works to reduce medication errors

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that about 1.3 million people are injured by medication errors annually in the U.S. Additionally, the FDA “receives more than 100,000 U.S. reports each year associated with a suspected medication error.” FDA recognizes medication errors as “any preventable event that may cause or lead to inappropriate medication use or patient harm while the medication is in the control of the healthcare professional, patient, or consumer.” Medication errors may lead to death, life threatening situations, hospitalizations, disabilities, or birth defects.

 

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In 2016, the FDA issued guidance for product design to minimize medication errors. To avoid errors and encourage safe use of drugs, the guidance recommended that tablets and other oral dosage forms should have distinct and legible imprint codes so healthcare providers and consumers can verify the drug product and strength. Lastly, the guidance recommends the package design should protect the consumer against incorrect use.

Michigan policy makers have taken the first step to make packaging easier on consumers. On November 29th, 2022, Rep. Jeffrey Pepper (D) – Dearborn introduced House Bill 6527, which was immediately referred to the Committee on Health Policy. HB 6527 would require drug manufacturers to put the generic name of the drug on the blister packs.

Rep. Pepper introduced this bill because of personal experience:

“It’s clearly a safety issue. I have five kids, and there’s a lot of medication for everyone in my family. Once those packs come out of the box, many of them do not have an indication of what [the drug] is. [It’s] a simple enough fix to just have them label this . . ., and I thought this would greatly benefit the public”

It is unclear if HB 6527 will make it to the Governor’s office by the end of this legislative session. However, it’s clear that policy makers can enhance patient safety and minimize medication errors by updating its laws regarding product design. 

FDA offers some additional safety tips for consumers, which can be found here.