While drugs reduce morbidity and mortality, and cure or provide palliative treatments for diseases, drugs also produce adverse effects. These adverse effects can be minor or can cause serious complications, delay recovery, increase hospital stays, and cause death. Further, as the number of medications an individual takes increases the risk of adverse effects increases. This not only includes the number of prescription drugs but also includes the consumption of non-prescription drugs and supplements (e.g. herbal). Finally, an additional dimension to the problem of medication safety is patients at risk, children and the elderly. Children and the elderly are known to respond to drugs differently than the general population, and as such, are at a greater risk of adverse effects. In addition, many of the potential adverse effects are not known because most drugs are not routinely tested in children and the elderly. Thus, insufficient scientific and clinical data impede our ability to identify, treat, and prevent adverse effects, particularly in children and the elderly.
The vision for the Doris Levkoff Meddin Center for Medication Safety Education Program to be the leader in identifying and determining the incidence of adverse drug effects, elucidating the mechanisms of adverse drug effects, and educating health care professionals and the public in recognizing and preventing adverse drug effects, particularly in children and the elderly.