University of South Carolina

Bennett to chair CoEE for medication safety

It may have killed Michael Jackson and Corey Haim. It nearly killed Dennis Quaid’s children. We take medication to get better, so how can it at times be dangerous? The state of South Carolina has recruited one of the nation’s top scientists to help make drugs safer.

A new endowed chair at the Medication Safety and Efficacy Center of Economic Excellence (CoEE) will work to improve drug safety in South Carolina and beyond.

Dr. Charles Bennett, an international expert in his field, has been recruited as the CoEE Endowed Chair in Medication Safety and Efficacy and the Frank P. and Josie M. Fletcher Professor of Pharmacy at the University of South Carolina (USC) campus of the South Carolina College of Pharmacy.

Issues with medication safety harm at least 1.5 million people every year, and the medical costs of drug-related injuries occurring in hospitals alone conservatively amount to $3.5 billion a year, according to a 2006 report from the Institute of Medicine.

The Medication Safety and Efficacy CoEE works to prevent adverse drug events and to improve drug safety. The center was created in 2005 by the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and USC in connection with the South Carolina College of Pharmacy. Scientists there study the effects of prescription and over-the-counter medications, particularly on children and the elderly. The CoEE also is focused on education and outreach to healthcare professionals and the public through the Doris Levkoff Meddin Medication Safety Education Program.

The non-state matching partners for the Medication Safety and Efficacy CoEE are Health Sciences South Carolina and the Frank P. and Josie M. Fletcher Endowment.

“I am extremely pleased to lead the CoEE for Medication Safety and Efficacy,” Bennett said. “The commitment to reducing health disparities in pharmaceuticals in South Carolina is tangible and will serve as a model for other states.” Health disparities are defined as gaps in the quality of healthcare that can occur across racial, ethnic or socioeconomic groups.

Bennett, a hematologist and oncologist, says he and his team at the Medication Safety and Efficacy CoEE will be developing technology that has a high likelihood of commercialization, will look for ways to make drug information more consumer-friendly and will create new training tools for healthcare providers.

Potential economic opportunities could come in the form of new federal funding from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies, new start-up companies based on research and new investment from healthcare companies outside the state.

Bennett has first-hand experience with commercializing technology and starting new companies. In 1998, he founded internationally known RADAR (Research on Adverse Drug events And Reports), which investigates and disseminates information about adverse drug and device reactions (ADRs). RADAR is staffed by a team of 25 doctors and Ph.D. scientists who investigate ADRs. During the last decade, the company’s work has identified potentially fatal and previously unreported side effects associated with 43 drugs.

An internationally known scholar with more than 250 publications – many of which appeared in leading medical journals, such as the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Lancet and the Annals of Internal Medicine – Bennett has been serving as professor of medicine at Northwestern University. He has also held the position of associate director of the Veterans Administration Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

The CoEE Program was created by the South Carolina legislature in 2002 and is funded through South Carolina Education Lottery proceeds. The legislation authorizes the state’s three public research institutions -- MUSC, Clemson and USC -- to use state funds to create Centers of Economic Excellence in research areas that will advance South Carolina's economy. Each center is awarded from $2 million to $5 million in state lottery funds, which must be matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis with non-state investment. To date, 46 centers have been created and 28 CoEE endowed chairs have been appointed to lead the centers. The CoEE Program has resulted in more than a quarter billion dollars of non-state investment in the South Carolina economy and is responsible for the creation of more than 3,200 jobs.

The South Carolina College of Pharmacy (SCCP) was formed in 2004 through the integration of the Colleges of Pharmacy in Columbia (USC) and in Charleston (MUSC). The SCCP is a statewide education, research and service institution that combines the nationally recognized faculty, staff and resources of MUSC, a major academic medical center, and USC, a large comprehensive university, to create a statewide approach to pharmacy education that is on a par with some of the most highly regarded colleges in the United States.

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 03/24/10 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 04/05/10 @ 5:08 PM | Permalink