The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting health care professionals and consumers to the availability of audio broadcasts that provide emerging drug safety information. The broadcasts, commonly known as podcasts, can be transmitted to personal computers and personal audio players.
The service is part of the agency's ongoing effort to broaden and speed its communications concerning the safety of marketed medications when unexpected adverse events are reported to FDA. The broadcasts are an addition to FDA's traditional print- and Web-based public health advisories (PHAs) and anyone can subscribe to them for free at http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/podcast/default.htm.
"FDA's highest priority is to protect and enhance the health of the American public," said Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs. "The service contributes to this goal by providing a new venue for busy health care professionals and patients to find drug safety information, so that they don't have to look for it on FDA's Web site or read about it in print. Timely and widely available broadcasts about previously unknown potential drug risks should help ensure that these products are used safely and effectively."
Since the service was launched in February 2007, it has alerted listeners to the potential hazards of skin-numbing products used in hair removal; the voluntary market withdrawals of drugs to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease and irritable bowel syndrome, and to serious adverse events associated with agents that reduce the need for blood transfusions in cancer patients.
The American Medical Association (AMA) welcomed the FDA audio broadcast. "This innovative development can help physicians provide the best treatments to their patients and improve patient safety," said Edward Langston, M.D., an AMA Board member.
In the broadcasts, FDA asks healthcare providers and patients to report adverse side effects from medical products to MedWatch. MedWatch reports can be made by phone: at 1-800-FDA-1088; fax: 1-800-FDA-0178; or via the Internet at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/index.html.