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Drug safety advisories issued by regulators regularly led to reduced prescribing by physicians by an average of nearly 6%, lowering the potential for patients to encounter potentially harmful or fatal reactions, a new study finds.

After examining two dozen advisories issued in Canada, Denmark, the U.S., and the U.K. between 2009 and 2015, researchers found that on average, prescribing for the drugs — mainly used in primary care — declined by 5.8%. These advisories did not include specific dosage information. For the four advisories with dosage advice, the average decline was 1.9%, which was not statistically significant or considered conclusive, given the small number.


The study attempted to explore a nagging question: To what extent do physicians pay attention to the missives that regulators issue when new concerns emerge about a medicine? One of the researchers said the effort takes an important step toward teasing out answers and, moreover, is unique because the sample examined 19 different types of drugs and warnings from regulators in different countries.

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