Purdue to launch medication-error investigation program

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Purdue University is preparing a program to investigate serious medication errors and provide recommendations for prevention. The program — made possible through a $25 million gift from Lilly Endowment — is being constructed to aid in reducing medication errors and enable pharmacists, doctors and nurses to improve drug distribution and administration systems, according to Craig Svensson, dean of the College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences.

"The Food and Drug Administration reports that 1.3 million people are injured by medication errors each year and, tragically, it estimates that such errors are responsible for at least one death a day," said Svensson. "Foremost in our minds is preventing harm to individuals, but medication errors also hurt our nation's economy by increasing the costs of health care. It is estimated that the cost to the nation of such errors is around $177 billion a year."

The program will be the first in the nation to provide a pharmacy-based expert team for rapid response investigation of serious medication error events and to provide recommendations to prevent such errors in the future, Svensson said. "Purdue also will use this support to address some of the most prominent challenges facing the health-care industry today, including reducing the cost to manufacture drugs, preventing adverse drug reactions and developing less toxic cancer treatments,” he added.

A pharmacists’s role, said Svensson, has been expanded in recent times to include patient education, counseling and monitoring drug therapy.

Purdue has pledged to raise an additional $10 million in private funds to augment the endowment's investment and support the initiatives.

As a model, the medication-error response team will use Purdue's Technical Assistance Program, which links Indiana companies with Purdue resources, to establish a pharmaceutical technical assistance program. Purdue researchers also will develop systems, much like those currently found in industry, to reduce medication errors, according to details released by Purdue.