Approved vs. unapproved drugs: Most pharmacists unaware of the distinction

This just in.... National Survey Shows 91% of U.S. Pharmacists Unaware They Dispense Unapproved Prescription Drugs      RALEIGH, N.C., Aug. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Medical Marketing Research, Inc. today announced the results of a nationwide, random-sample survey of 500 U.S. retail pharmacists concerning their dispensing habits for pharmaceutical products. This survey was designed to specifically measure pharmacists' awareness that they may be dispensing products that have never undergone the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval process. One of the most surprising findings was that 91% of retail pharmacists surveyed believed that all medication available for dispensing with a doctor's prescription had been FDA approved. In fact, the FDA estimates that, in the United States, as many as several thousand drug products are marketed illegally, without required FDA approval(i).     The survey, commissioned by Mutual Pharmaceutical Company/AR Scientific, was carried out between July 7 and July 17, 2006.     Additional findings addressed the understanding by pharmacists of a specific unapproved product -- quinine sulfate. Quinine sulfate is a widely- used treatment for malaria. Although the first FDA-approved formulation of quinine sulfate just came onto the market in July 2006, pharmacists continue dispensing formulations that have never undergone FDA evaluation.     In addition:     --  89% of pharmacists surveyed believe that all of the quinine sulfate         products they dispense are FDA approved     --  33% of pharmacists either do not know or do not believe that quinine         sulfate has adverse events related to blood levels     --  31% of pharmacists either do not know or do not believe that quinine         sulfate has a specific, potentially life-threatening side effect of         QT prolongation     --  36% of pharmacists do not know that the FDA specifically states that         accumulation of quinine places the elderly at greater risk of adverse         events     For more information about this survey, please contact Dan Budwick, BMC Communications, 212.477.9007 ext. 14.