With the number of drug recalls, adverse reactions and other issues involving over-the-counter and prescription medications, WellPoint Inc is developing a system to more quickly uncover health risks of drugs.
The health insurer is working with U.S. health regulators and other institutions on it’s Safety Sentinel System, which will utilize a 35-million-member database to monitor and identify safety problems of approved medications. According to a Reuters Article, signals in claims data alert to potential issues and WellPoint would then work with their community of providers to quickly substantiate or negate any problems. This system would work much more efficiently and identify issues sooner than the Food and Drug Administration or medical professionals could.
For example, Vioxx was on the market for more than five years before studies identified a heart attack and stroke risk. WellPoint’s president said such risk may have been understood much sooner with the WellPoint system. According to Dr. Jerry Avorn at the Harvard Medical School, this system may be the missing link in the health care system to measure the safety of approved drugs once they are in widespread use. It may also be able to identify potentially dangerous combinations of medications and treatments.
Details are still under consideration as to how the information gathered during the continual monitoring of the Safety Sentinel System will be shared with the medical community and drug manufacturers. It is set to be launched in mid-2009.
While this may provide a huge benefit to the medical community and thus better health management for consumers, it won’t change the affects that drug liability and related medical mistakes have had on patients up to this point. Contact a product liability or medical malpractice attorney if you have suffered as a result of medication mistakes or issues.