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 market.
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.
Medicaid officials acknowledge the problem, but they say they need help from Congress to fix it, officials said.
BACKGROUND: FDA REVIEWS
- 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.
- Some 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 status.
- 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.