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Patients asked to report drug side-effects to pharmacists

New campaign hopes to encourage more pharmacists to use the Yellow Card scheme

OnMedica Staff

Monday, 18 February 2008

A new campaign is being launched today to get patients to talk to their pharmacists about any suspected side-effects from prescription medicines.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has launched a six-week campaign to get community pharmacists to mention the Yellow Card (YC) Scheme when they talk to their customers about their medicines.

The MHRA also wants community pharmacists to file more reports on drug reactions to them. Most of the 20,000 reports every year come directly from doctors, but only a few hundred from community pharmacists. Last year the  MHRA launched a self-reporting system so that patients can contact them directly.

The Yellow Card scheme has helped scientists find out that cranberry juice could weaken the effects of warfarin, one of the most commonly prescribed blood thinning drugs. In 2001, other Yellow Card reports revealed a connection between smoking cessation drug Zyban and seizures.

During this week, pharmacists will receive an information pack containing updated Yellow Card reporting forms, information leaflets, and a new poster for display in the pharmacy. The Yellow Card reporting forms have been made simpler and easier to use than previous versions and an updated online system will make it quicker and easier to report suspected side effects of medicines to the MHRA.

Dr June Raine, Director of Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines at the MHRA said, she wanted to stress that whilst patients need to know their medicines have important benefits, they may also have unwanted side effects. 

"By providing this information, not only are we able to gain better insights into the safety of medicines, but you can directly become involved in medicines regulation," she said.

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