Bill Mandating Medwatch Phone Number

December 21, 2015

By a unanimous vote, the House of Representatives has given final legislative approval to a bill championed by Rep. David Baram (D-Bloomfield, Windsor), that makes it mandatory for all generic prescription drug containers to carry the 1-800 MedWatch telephone number.

In leading a debate on the legislation in the House, Baram, co-chairman of the General Law Committee, which introduced the bill, said it was a “landmark win for consumers in Connecticut.”

“This is a first-in-the-nation legislative action to provide this important consumer information,” Baram said.

MedWatch is a drug safety reporting system made available to consumers to allow direct reporting of Adverse Drug Events to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Information provided to MedWatch, by consumers, provides a tool to the FDA by giving the federal agency the ability to identify adverse reactions and monitor prescription drugs. The information collected about adverse reactions is used to determine if FDA action is needed on a specific drug.

According to the FDA, it receives information on less than 1 percent of the actual adverse drug reactions (ADRs) from the consumers. Prescription drugs are currently responsible for killing more people annually than illegal drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Medical Journal of Medicine says that prescription drugs are responsible for 291 deaths every day.

In negotiating the legislation with other lawmakers, Rep. Baram also worked with AbleChild, an advocacy organization for consumers.

“I applaud Sheila Matthews of AbleChild for bringing this to our attention and helping us pass this great consumer protection legislation,” Baram said. “Now consumers will have information on how they can report adverse prescription reactions so the manufacturers can review medication issues, and the FDA can re-evaluation safety concerns. This is a major consumer protection that will help promote the safe use and manufacturing of medicines that many of us rely on to live productive lives.”