January 31, 2013 08:00 ET

NCPDP Mobilizes Healthcare Industry to Take Action on Patient Safety Issue: Accidental Overdose of Acetaminophen

Updated White Paper Details the Progress Made to Address the Public Health Issue

SCOTTSDALE, AZ--(Marketwire - Jan 31, 2013) - NCPDP announces its updated white paper reporting the compelling progress made since it released a set of recommendations for protecting consumers and patients from accidental acetaminophen overdose: "NCPDP Recommendations for Improved Prescription Container Labels for Medicines Containing Acetaminophen Version 1.1."

Acetaminophen is one of the most commonly used medicines in the U.S.; accidental overdose of the medicine can result in severe liver damage. NCPDP mobilized healthcare industry participants in 2011 to explore the public health issue and recommend actions to support the safe use of acetaminophen. The recommendations called on the healthcare industry to implement measures to help patients avoid unintentional overdose, enabling patients to: (1) identify when their prescription medicines contain acetaminophen, (2) compare active ingredients on over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medicine labels, and (3) avoid use of two medicines that contain acetaminophen at a time.

Today, pharmacy retailers -- including CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Walmart and Target -- estimated to collectively represent more than half of the prescriptions dispensed in 2011, have either implemented or committed to a phased implementation of NCPDP's recommendations to produce prescription labels with the complete spelling of acetaminophen, eliminating use of abbreviations such as "acet" or "APAP." Through a collective action by the national drug database publishers, the vast majority of retail pharmacies have prioritized the standard acetaminophen warning label in the top three warnings for prescription medicines. View the full account of actions taken in the updated white paper at

"Liver injury from acetaminophen overdose remains a serious public health problem," said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "NCPDP's leadership in working with the pharmacy system industry to develop and implement these voluntary standards continues to be an effective complement to FDA's regulatory and educational efforts to improve the safe use of acetaminophen-containing medicines."

"When patient health and safety are at stake, we must take action," explained Lee Ann Stember, President of NCPDP. "We believe all healthcare industry stakeholders should share accountability for protecting patients before their bottom line."

Stember continued, "This update to our white paper provides additional guidance for those industry stakeholders who have not yet implemented the new pharmacy labeling practices for acetaminophen-containing medicines."

"Walgreens is committed to patient safety by avoiding the use of 'APAP' and adopting the complete spelling of 'Acetaminophen' whenever possible," said Walgreens manager of pharmacy quality assurance Averill Gordon. "We will continue to explore other ways we can help raise awareness among our patients about their medication to help keep them safe."

This initiative is part of NCPDP's decades-long commitment to providing the industry forum that addresses challenges and drives solutions that improve the patient experience, as well as efficiency and cost savings within the healthcare system. For over 30 years NCPDP has been the forum for healthcare, pharmacy and government stakeholders to convene on specific issues and create solutions that support the level of care consumers, clinicians and pharmacists rely on today.

Founded in 1977, NCPDP is a not-for-profit, ANSI-accredited, Standards Development Organization with over 1,600 members representing virtually every sector of the pharmacy services industry. Our diverse membership provides leadership and healthcare business solutions through education and standards, created using the consensus building process. NCPDP has been named in federal legislation, including HIPAA, MMA, and HITECH. NCPDP members have created standards such as the Telecommunication Standard and Batch Standard, the SCRIPT Standard for e-Prescribing, the Manufacturers Rebate Standard and more to improve communication within the pharmacy industry. Our data products include dataQ®, a robust database of information on more than 76,000 pharmacies, and HCIdea®, a database of continually updated information on more than 2.3 million prescribers. NCPDP's RxReconn® is a legislative tracking product for real-time monitoring of pharmacy-related state and national legislative and regulatory activity. For more information about NCPDP Standards, Data Services, Products, Educational Programs and Work Group meetings, go online at or call (480) 477-1000.

Contact Information

    Janet Cabibbo
    Amendola Communications for NCPDP
    480-664-8412 ext. 15
    Email Contact