FDAnews Drug Daily Bulletin

FDA: DRUGMAKERS NOT OBLIGED TO ELIMINATE CONFUSING MEDICAL ABBREVIATIONS

June 26, 2006
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Drugmakers are only urged -- not obligated -- to remove error-prone medical abbreviations from labeling, advertising and packaging under the FDA's new campaign to purge these abbreviations from all forms of medical communication.

The initiative -- launched June 14 by the FDA and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) -- recommends eliminating the use of potentially confusing abbreviations by drug companies, healthcare professionals, medical students and medical writers.

"It is not mandatory for pharma companies to not use [certain] abbreviations. We have no regulation to mandate it," an FDA spokeswoman told FDAnews. However, when the Division of Medication Errors & Technical Support finds such abbreviations they strongly urge drug companies to remove them, she added.

While drugmakers are not required to eliminate these abbreviations, PhRMA has worked to address the issue, Associate Vice President for Regulatory Affairs Alan Goldhammer told FDAnews, adding that the industry group is part of a number of coalitions working to prevent medication errors. "This has been an activity that has been of primary interest to us," he said. "This latest effort to focus closer on abbreviations is clearly something I think PhRMA can get behind and support."