SOS Rx: National medication safety group organized


Washington DC--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, 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, MD. "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. "Express Scripts' mission is to make the use of prescription drugs safer, as well as 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. Practitioners currently lack a dynamic resource to which they can turn for guidance on safe practices to be followed when prescribing certain medications. The clearinghouse would also contain a consumer-friendly version of the safe practices.
    • 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 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
Center for Information Therapy
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Group Insurance Commission
Connecticut Geriatrics Society
Department of Defense, Military Health System
Employers' Coalition on Health
Express Scripts
Four Rivers Health Care Purchasing Alliance
Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations
Massachusetts Coalition for the Prevention of Medical Errors
Medical Records Institute
National Alliance for Hispanic Health
National Alliance of Caregiving
National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation
National Business Coalition on Health
National Consumers League
National Family Caregivers Association
National Health Council
National Quality Forum
New Jersey Healthcare Quality Institute
Niagara Health Quality Coalition
Rite Aid
Safe Med, Inc.
Visiting Nurse Service of New York

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
    Published on All rights reserved.