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SOS Rx: National Medication Safety Group Organized.

WASHINGTON, April 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The nation's oldest consumer advocacy organization today announced the launch of SOS Rx, a national healthcare coalition promoting the safe use of medications. The coalition, run by the National Consumers League, includes participation by more than 60 consumer and patient safety organizations, physician, pharmacist, caregiver, and employer groups, and government. The coalition's purpose is to make the outpatient use of medications safer, especially for senior citizens. Today the coalition launched its online home,, which will provide information for consumers about upcoming educational campaigns on topics ranging from the safe use of anticoagulants to the advantages of e-prescribing and the benefits of maintaining a personal medication record.

"There is a safety gap in our healthcare system and in useful information for the consumer who may be taking several medications," said Linda Golodner, NCL president. "Every consumer needs to be aware of risks, including prescribing errors and dangerous interactions, and how a lack of doctor- patient communication can adversely impact health or the health of your family. SOS Rx provides an extraordinary opportunity for an alliance of concerned partners to search for answers and positively affect both consumers and the system as a whole."

Members of SOS Rx include consumer and patient safety organizations, accrediting bodies, groups representing physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, caregivers, and employers, and the government. (See below for full list of current members.) Dozens of other organizations, foundations, and private companies participate in workshops and meetings.

"Consumers face enormous challenges when they enter the health care arena as either patients or caregivers," said Lucian Leape, Ph.D., Harvard School of Public Health. "The members of SOS Rx are committed to arming consumers with the information they need to successfully navigate the system and maintain and improve their own health."

"AHRQ is proud to be a member of SOS Rx, a unique coalition that is bringing everyone to the table -- patients, advocates, providers, and industry -- to produce real changes in the health care system," said Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "AHRQ's commitment to patient safety research, especially in the area of safe medication use, is intended to provide the kinds of tools needed to help make those changes a reality."

SOS Rx is initially funded by an unrestricted educational grant from founding sponsor Express Scripts (ESRX). "Express Scripts' mission is to make the use of prescription drugs safer, as well as more affordable, so we're very pleased to collaborate with the National Consumers League in launching SOS Rx with the support of such a wide range of organizations committed to greater safety," said Barrett Toan, chief executive officer of Express Scripts.

SOS Rx Campaigns

The SOS Rx coalition's work is two-tiered, aiming to produce both behavior changes in consumers through education efforts and institutional changes within the health care system through advocacy.
 * Consumer Education: This fall, SOS Rx will embark upon a comprehensive
 educational effort targeting consumers' use of high-risk drugs, such as
 warfarin (a blood thinner used to treat or prevent blood clots), that
 are associated with high numbers of adverse drug events. Consumers will
 be informed that other medications and substances they may be taking --
 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, dietary supplements
 and herbals, as well as food -- could dangerously interact with their
 prescribed medication.

 * Healthcare System Advocacy: SOS Rx is currently exploring the most
 effective ways to promote system-wide changes, including:

 * The creation of a clearinghouse of safe practices for high-risk
 situations related to outpatient medication. The clearinghouse will
 be a comprehensive dynamic resource to which healthcare professionals
 can turn for guidance on safe practices to be followed when
 prescribing certain medications. The clearinghouse would contain
 consumer-friendly versions of the safe practices. A component of the
 clearinghouse activities will be linkages to similar activities and

 * The development and promotion of a personal medication record, a
 self-recorded list of prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, and
 dietary supplements, which would provide an essential tool for
 consumers to take a strong role in partnering with their health care
 providers. By convening expert panelists, creating a template for
 personal medication records, and ultimately, outreach to consumers
 about the importance of maintaining a personal medication record,
 SOS Rx will encourage its widespread adoption.

 * Accelerating the adoption of e-prescribing by establishing guiding
 principles and a standard for e-prescribing. An ideal e-prescribing
 model will be developed and promoted to health care professionals. A
 public education campaign will educate consumers about e-prescribing.

 SOS Rx Coalition
 As of today, the members of SOS Rx coalition include:

 Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy
 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
 Alliance for Aging Research
 American Academy of Family Physicians
 American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
 American Academy of Physician Assistants
 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
 American Benefits Council
 American Medical Women's Association Foundation
 American Pharmacists Association
 American Society of Consultant Pharmacists
 American Society of Health-System Pharmacists
 AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP
 Center for Information Therapy
 Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Group Insurance Commission
 Connecticut Geriatrics Society
 Department of Defense, Military Health System, Pharmacoeconomic Center
 Employers' Coalition on Health
 Express Scripts
 Four Rivers Health Care Purchasing Alliance
 Institute for Safe Medication Practices
 Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
 Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors
 Medco Health Solutions, Inc.
 Medical Records Institute
 The Medstat Group
 National Alliance for Hispanic Health
 National Alliance of Caregiving
 National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation
 National Business Coalition on Health
 National Consumers League
 The National Council on the Aging
 National Council on Patient Information and Education
 National Family Caregivers Association
 National Health Council
 National Health Policy Group
 National Patient Safety Foundation
 National Quality Forum
 New Jersey Healthcare Quality Institute
 Niagara Health Quality Coalition
 Pharmacy Care Alliance
 Rite Aid
 Safe Med, Inc.
 South Central Michigan Health Alliance
 Visiting Nurse Associations of America
 Visiting Nurse Service of New York

For more information about SOS Rx, visit, or contact the communications department of the National Consumers League at or 202-835-3323.

About NCL

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to identify, protect, represent, and advance the economic and social interests of consumers and workers. NCL is a private, nonprofit membership organization. For more information, visit

CONTACT: Carol McKay or Mark Fernando of The National Consumers League, +1-202-835-3323, or

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Date:Apr 6, 2004
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