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New Efforts to Help Improve Medical Products for Patient Safety and Quality of Medical Care
Date:5/22/2008

Initiatives

"We look forward to working with the FDA on the Sentinel Initiative," said CMS Acting Administrator Kerry Weems. "There's a clear nexus between the data collected through Medicare's prescription drug program and the FDA's role in protecting the public from adverse events. The public health and safety benefits from this cooperative venture with the FDA will be substantial."

Weems noted that CMS's most recent survey of beneficiaries indicates that people with Medicare use more than twice as many medications in a year as do other Americans. Medicare beneficiaries use an average of 28 prescriptions in a year, while those who consider themselves in poor health have about 45 prescriptions in a year (source: Medicare current beneficiary survey, 2004). In contrast, other Americans use about 13 prescriptions a year, according to a 2007 study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (http://www.ahrq.gov/news/nn/nn051607.htm). Medicare beneficiaries' high usage of medications, coupled with numerous chronic health conditions, puts this population segment at higher risk of adverse drug events than other Americans and makes them the group most likely to see benefits from the FDA's new Sentinel Initiative.

The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit data, linked to Medicare inpatient and outpatient claims data, will allow the creation of a highly robust HHS database as the prototype for the Sentinel System. Publication of the Medicare Part D Claims Data Rule enables the FDA to use Part D claims data as the FDA explores drug safety questions related to particular products. Medicare's Part D prescription drug program, implemented in January 2006, has generated claims data on medications used by the more than 25 million beneficiaries with prescription drug coverage under the benefit. Linking these data on prescription drug use to other Medicare claims information, including diag
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
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