Saturday, March 3, 2007
Article in the Wall Street Journal -- Report Blasts FDA's System To Track Drugs, by Anna Wilde Matthews. Here's an excerpt:
The Food and Drug Administration has bungled its effort to build a new system for detecting the side effects of medicines after they go on the market, delaying its implementation by at least four years, according to a report commissioned by the agency itself.
As a result, the agency must continue to rely on its existing "dysfunctional" computer system as a primary tool for tracking the safety of medications sold in the U.S., according to the November 2006 report, which hasn't been made public.
The situation is "frustrating and undermining...the post-marketing drug safety work" of its staff "because they lack some of the basic tools they need to perform their jobs, e.g. a computing system that meets their requirements," says the report. It was prepared by the Breckenridge Institute, a research and consulting firm in Breckenridge, Colo.
The FDA's drug-tracking system, called the Adverse Event Reporting System, consists of a database and other software and hardware that amass and help sift reports of potential side effects that have been filed by drug makers, doctors and others. The data are the FDA's main way to detect drug-related hazards, and can lead to changes in label warnings or even withdrawals of drugs from the market.
But, the report says, FDA safety experts waste time -- an average of 45 minutes per day -- dealing with the inefficiencies and snags caused by the current software. The Adverse Event Reporting System is overwhelmed by the growing volume of adverse-event reports, which exceeds 400,000 a year, the report says.