WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) plans to adopt a new policy on the labeling and measurement of oral liquid medications.
APhA said Thursday that more than 300 members of its House of Delegates voted to move away from outdated dosing cups and teaspoons in favor of oral syringes and cups with metric system measurement for prescribing and measuring all oral liquid medications. The vote took place at the APhA Annual Meeting in Baltimore.
Specifically, APhA supports the use of milliliters (ml) as the standard unit of measure for oral liquid medications, as well as universal availability of dosing devices with numeric graduations that correspond to the unit of measure on the container’s label.
The association also said it supports the mandatory use of leading zeros before the decimal point for amounts of less than one on prescription container labels for oral liquid medicines, while discouraging the use of trailing zeros after the decimal point for amounts greater than one.
APhA noted that multiple national organizations have been calling for the adoption of the metric system to reduce dosing and measurement confusion, since many harmful and sometimes fatal events have occurred due to the lack of unified measuring standards.
Citing ata from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-Cooperative Adverse Event Surveillance System (NEISS-CADES) project, APhA said it’s estimated that each year in the United States more than 70,000 emergency department (ED) visits result from unintentional medication overdoses among children, and ne out of every 151 2-year-olds is treated in an ED for an unintentional medication overdose.
In addition, over 80% of ED visits among children under age 12 result from unsupervised children taking medications on their own, and 10% of ED visits in that age group are due to medication errors. Also, over-the-counter medicines are involved in about a third of ED visits among children younger than 12.
APhA added that its new policy reiterates the pharmacy profession’s position on the public health issue of medication dosing. The association is a collaborating organization with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on PROTECT, an effort to address the rise in emergency room visits from OTC and prescription medication overdoses in children.
“The PROTECT initiative focuses on promoting safe medication packing with clearer dosing measures and labeling to ensure ease of administration by caregivers and increased education for parents and caregivers about proper use and administration of OTC medications,” APhA stated. “Pharmacists and other members of the health care team, public health, parents and caregivers are committed to reducing the risk of medication overdosing in children.”