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September 25, 1996

Provision of Prescription Drug Info Mandated

JAMA. 1996;276(12):935. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540120013006

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PEOPLE get more information about the nutritional value of the food they give their dog than they get about the drugs their physician prescribes, declared Sen Edward M. Kennedy (D, Mass) speaking on the Senate floor. To make his point he displayed a postersized copy of the labeling on a can of Alpo dog food.

Kennedy was leading the charge to put some muscle into legislation that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to see that patients get adequate information about the drugs their physicians prescribe. He succeeded in his effort.

After 15 years of debate, not much agreement, and even less accomplishment as to who should provide information to patients about prescription drugs, on August 6, 1996, President Clinton signed into law a requirement that will make the provision of such information a reality. It puts the onus on the private sector to develop a plan