A study from today's JAMA, while not directed at pharmacists, illustrates our important role not only as immunizers but as information sources for our patients and the public at large. The JAMA article points out that during the first couple of years of marketing of Merck's quadrivalent human papillomavirus recombinant vaccine (Gardasil), more than 12,000 adverse events (including 32 deaths and numerous other serious adverse events) were reported to the CDC's Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) . Based on 23 million administrations of the vaccine since its licensure, this comes out to a rate of 53.9 reports per 100,000 doses distributed, a level that led CDC and FDA to conclude that the vaccine is safe and continued use is in the best interests of Americans.
I see this as a good time to remind immunizing pharmacists of our role as patient information providers. APhA has been promoting and educating pharmacists as immunizers for years. We also maintain the most up to date information on www.pharmacist.com and via the Immunization Listserve. If you are not currently on the list, you can send Mitch Rothholz an email and you will be included.
We also have an important role to play in making sure that our nation's health authorities have adequate information on which to base their decisions. Without that, the products that we supply and administer to our patients could be the wrong ones, and our long-term credibility as the drug experts on the health care team would be in jeopardy. Be sure you are doing all you can to help your patients and your professional colleagues to contribute to our databases that are so important in pharmacovigilance efforts.