What We're Reading: FDA Does a Poor Job Tracking Drugs on the Market

What we're reading, January 15, 2016: new report finds flaws in how the FDA tracks drugs after they reach the market; rate of uninsured Hispanic children hits historic low; and CVS and New York State make medication that reverses opioid overdose available without prescription.

A new report from the Government Accountability Office has found flaws in the way the FDA tracked drugs once they were on the market. Overall, the FDA was not doing a good job with following up with how the drug does in the marketplace with issues such as patients reporting problems taking the drug. The New York Times reported that with one-fourth of drugs approved from October 2006 to December 2014 going through an expedited program, longer-term evidence on a drug’s safety and efficacy is not making it into the public realm.

The rate of uninsured Hispanic children fell to a historic low in 2014 with the rate falling to 9.7%, down 2 percentage points below 2013. According to Kaiser Health News, the improved rate may be a result of Hispanic adults having more opportunities to enroll in health coverage thanks to premium subsidies and expanding Medicaid programs and signing their children up at the same time. However, despite the drop in the rate of Hispanic children without health insurance, they still represent a disproportionate share of the country’s uninsured children.

In New York State, CVS will make naloxone, a medication that reverses opioid overdose, available without a prescription to customers. Traditionally, naloxone is administered by emergency medical or hospital personnel, but can be administered with minimal training, which CVS pharmacists can now provide when they dispense the drug, according to a press release. Access to naloxone had been one of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s priorities as part of his plan to address the opioid epidemic in New York.