Unapproved Drugs are Killing Dozens

Millions of private patients are taking medications that have never been reviewed by the US government for safety and effectiveness, an Associated Press investigation found. And taxpayers have shelled out at least $200 million since 2004 for the unapproved medications that are still covered under Medicaid, according to the analysis of federal data has found.

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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.

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 AP analysis found that Medicaid paid nearly $198 million from 2004 to 2007 for more than 100 unapproved drugs, mostly for common conditions such as colds and pain. Data for 2008 were not available but unapproved drugs still are being sold.

The AP checked the medications against FDA databases, using agency guidelines to determine if they were unapproved. The FDA says there may be thousands of such drugs on the market. Medicaid officials acknowledge the problem, but say they need help from Congress to fix it.

Sources: The Times Of India

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