Purdue News

Purdue will launch first medication-error investigation program in U.S.

Craig Svensson
INDIANAPOLIS — Purdue University will launch what is believed to be the nation's first expert team to investigate serious medication errors and provide recommendations for prevention.

"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 Craig Svensson, dean of the College of Pharmacy, Nursing and Health Sciences. "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."

Thanks to a $25 million gift from Lilly Endowment Inc. Purdue has the resources to move forward in establishing a program that will reduce medication errors and enable pharmacists, doctors and nurses to make the best use of their skills by improving drug distribution and administration systems, he said.

"This program will be the nation's first pharmacy school-based expert team to provide a 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."

Pharmacy practice and the pharmaceutical sciences are an integral part of the health-care system and have a greater impact on the quality and cost of care than most people realize, Svensson said.

"Pharmacists are the most widely accessible health-care professionals, and their role has expanded to include patient education, counseling and monitoring drug therapy. By supporting and engaging our pharmacists as a resource, we could greatly impact the health of this nation."

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

"Purdue developed the first community pharmacy residency in the country," Svensson said. "We now plan to develop community pharmacy-based models to better utilize pharmacists for early detection and management of adverse drug reactions. It is estimated that there are 700,000 emergency room visits a year related to adverse drug reactions, and many could be prevented by early intervention."

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.

A leader in industrial pharmacy, Purdue also will use the Lilly Endowment investment to focus on reducing the cost and time needed to develop drugs. Nanotechnology will be used to develop delivery systems for cancer drugs to help reduce their toxicity.

"Reducing the cost and time for developing a new drug is one of the industry's biggest issues, and cancer is the second leading cause of death in the country," Svensson said. "As a leader in the field, we hope to shape the future of health care by finding solutions to the challenges facing industry and our nation."

The Purdue School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences will build upon its established strengths in industrial pharmacy and cancer drug discovery to launch several new interdisciplinary initiatives through collaborations with Purdue's Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, Purdue Cancer Center, Engineering Research Center, School of Industrial Engineering, Birck Center for Nanotechnology and Center for Pharmaceutical Processing Research. The latter is the only such center established by the National Science Foundation. In addition to the centers on campus, Purdue's researchers and pharmacy students also have access to the Chao Center for Industrial Pharmacy & Contract Manufacturing, an FDA-certified manufacturing facility in the Purdue Research Park.

Purdue's School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences is ranked second in the nation, and its industrial pharmacy program is recognized as the leading program in the nation. Purdue enrolls nearly 70,000 students systemwide, including 39,000 on its West Lafayette campus. In addition to 648 Pharm. D. students, the pharmacy program has 754 undergraduates and 117 graduate students. The school has educated more than 7,000 pharmacists and 1,000 pharmaceutical scientists and educators since its establishment in 1884. Purdue pharmacy alumni and former faculty members make up about 20 percent of the nation's deans of pharmacy schools.

Writer: Elizabeth Gardner, (765) 494-2096, ekgardner@purdue.edu

Source: Craig Svensson: (765) 494-1368, svensson@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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