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Report suspected side effects to help make medicines safer

10 November 2016

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is running a social media campaign between 7-11 November to promote reporting of suspected side effects, as part of an EU-wide awareness week.

Medicines have the potential to harm as well as cure. While they are usually safe and effective, side effects can happen. It is important that the associated risks are understood and communicated to health professionals and patients.

Regulators like MHRA rely on the reporting of suspected side effects to make sure medicines on the market are acceptably safe. Unfortunately, all reporting systems suffer from underreporting, and this is why their campaign is important to both raise awareness and help strengthen the system.

At the centre of the campaign is an animation showing the story of a patient who has a suspected adverse reaction. It shows the medicine being taken, a suspected side effect being experienced, how reports are made by patients or healthcare professionals to the medicines regulator, and how this benefits future patients.

Alongside other safety information, reporting has contributed to the withdrawal of an obesity medicine, the warning that patients taking warfarin should limit or avoid drinking cranberry juice, and, in many EU countries, the advice not to prescribe aspirin to children virtually eliminated cases of Reye’s syndrome, a serious and often fatal condition that causes swelling in the liver and brain.

Mick Foy, group manager for MHRA’s Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines division said:

“The most important part of our work is making sure the medicines you and your family take are effective and acceptably safe.

“Our campaign will help the public, patients and healthcare professionals report potential side effects and have confidence that their reports are making a difference.

“You can help make medicines safer by reporting any suspected side effects easily and quickly through our Yellow Card Scheme online or via the mobile app.”

The campaign is part of the Strengthening Collaboration for Operating Pharmacovigilance in Europe (SCOPE) Joint Action project. One of its main aims is to raise awareness of national reporting systems for suspected side effects in medicines. 22 member states are taking part in the combined cross-European social media campaign.

To learn more about the campaign please visit MHRA online.