Center to improve drug effectiveness, safety launched

The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has established a new research center dedicated to improving the safety and effectiveness of medications. Led by Bloomberg School faculty in collaboration with colleagues from the university's schools of Medicine and Arts and Sciences, the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness will address prescription drug use and pharmaceutical policy in the United States and abroad. Core faculty will focus on research, training, clinical care, and public service.

"Pharmaceuticals play a vital role in the health and longevity of millions, yet many challenges prevent their optimal use," says G. Caleb Alexander, co-director of the center and an associate professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Epidemiology with a joint appointment at the School of Medicine. "The center will focus on six core problem areas—clinical decision making, comparative effectiveness, global access and affordability, medication safety, pharmaceutical policy, and prescription drug abuse—to improve the safety and effectiveness of medicines."

In the United States, nearly three out of four doctor's office visits include a new or renewed prescription, and nearly half of the U.S. population reports taking at least one prescription drug during the past month. Rates of utilization among the elderly are even greater, with nearly 30 percent using five prescription medicines concurrently. The Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness recognizes the benefit of using prescription medications but notes that it is not without risk. Each year, more than 700,000 individuals in the United States alone are injured or die because of adverse drug events. 

"The Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness is unique in that it serves as a nexus for individuals at Johns Hopkins who are involved in drug research, education, clinical programs, and public service, allowing our faculty to bring a multidisciplinary approach to the challenges of maximizing drug efficacy and safety," says Jodi Segal, co-director of the Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness and an associate professor with joint appointments in the School of Medicine's Department of General Internal Medicine and the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management. "We are extremely grateful for the many individuals who have supported us during the launch of this center and to the many funding agencies that recognize the importance and value of this critical work."