english.prescrire.org > Spotlight > Archives : 2013 > Health professionals and patients should be encouraged to report drugs' adverse effects

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Health professionals and patients should be encouraged to report drugs' adverse effects

The reporting of adverse effects by health professionals is an activity of benefit to the community which takes little of their time. The health authorities should encourage them to do so, particularly by giving them feedback.

When a drug is commercialised, its adverse effects are either little known or unknown. That is why it is important to encourage the reporting of adverse effects both by health professionals and by patients.

Few health professionals report adverse effects to the pharmacovigilance centres, citing lack of time, the excessive “administrative burden”, lack of feedback etc. The experience of a general practitioner in the Paris region shows however that for motivated health professionals, reporting adverse effects is manageable.

This doctor decided to report all the adverse effects he noted during the year 2010. He recorded and reported 163 adverse effects, i.e. 2.3 for 100 acts. 12 adverse effects were severe, 5 were unexpected.

The author learned from this experience that collecting all of the adverse effects enabled him “to analyse the anticipated benign adverse effects which can cause anxiety and/or the consumption of secondary care, and to think about the necessity of the prescriptions themselves as part of a holistic approach to prescriptions’ harm-benefit balance”.

He confirms that monitoring adverse effects is now part of his medical practice, and that it is possible for other health professionals to do likewise. Pharmacovigilance centres have a crucial role to play in encouraging the reporting of adverse effects, particularly by giving health professionals feedback, which is far from being the customary practice.

©Prescrire 1 March 2013

"Reporting adverse effects: a practice to be encouraged" Prescrire Int 2013; 22 (136): 83. (Pdf, free).

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