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March 26, 1997

MedGuide: At Last a Long-Sought Opportunity for Patient Education About Prescription Drugs

JAMA. 1997;277(12):949-950. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540360017005

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PROVIDING patients with adequate information concerning the drugs their physicians prescribe has long been the expressed goal of health care professionals from physicians to pharmacists. But it has proved an elusive one. Now, however, the aim has moved measurably closer to achievement.

It has been estimated that 30% to 50% of patients do not follow prescribed drug regimens because of lack of information. The result is therapeutic failure and adverse drug events, said Peter H. Rheinstein, MD, director of medicine at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). He said that among outpatients in the United States, drug-related morbidity and mortality is estimated to cost $76.6 billion annually.

Estimates such as this have provided the driving force for moves to provide adequate information to patients about prescription drugs. But for almost 2 decades, none of the groups involved seemed to agree on how, by whom, or in what form this information

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