Medicaid Covering Unapproved Drugs

Our tax dollars at work – Medicaid is risking patients lives by authorizing potentially dangerous drugs. As reported in the Dallas Morning News, Medicaid has paid at least $200 million since  2004 for medicines that have
never been reviewed by the government for safety and effectiveness but
still are covered under Medicaid. Excerpts from the article:

The availability of unapproved
prescription drugs to the public may create a dangerous false sense of
security. Dozens of deaths have been linked to them, records show.

The medications date back decades, before the Food and Drug
Administration tightened its review of drugs in the early 1960s. The
FDA says it is trying to squeeze them from the market, but conflicting
federal laws allow the Medicaid health program for low-income people to
pay for them. The FDA says there may be thousands of such drugs on the

The FDA and Medicaid are part of the Health and
Human Services Department, but the FDA has yet to compile a master list
of unapproved drugs, and Medicaid – which may be the biggest purchaser
– keeps paying.

officials acknowledge the problem, but they say they need help from
Congress to fix it, officials said.


•In 1962, Congress ordered the Food and Drug Administration to review
all new medications for effectiveness. Thousands of drugs already on
the market were also supposed to be evaluated.

manufacturers claimed their medications were "grandfathered" under
earlier laws, and even under the 1962 bill. However, the FDA is
skeptical that any drugs on the market are entitled to grandfather

•In the early 1980s, an older medicine, E-Ferol,
a high-potency vitamin E injection, was linked to serious reactions in
some 100 premature babies, 40 of whom died. The FDA began a program to
weed out such drugs.

•Last year, the FDA banned
unapproved cough medicines containing hydrocodone, a potent narcotic.
Some had directions for treating children as young as age 2, although
no hydrocodone cough products have been shown to be safe and effective
for children under 6.


1 Comment For This Post

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    November 24th, 2008 | 4:42 pm

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