Help make medicines safer by reporting suspected side effects this Med Safety Week

News Category: Regulatory news

Date: 25/11/2019

This week – 25 to 29 November 2019 – marks the fourth annual #MedSafetyWeek, with medicine regulatory authorities across the world taking part in a social media campaign to raise awareness of medicine side effects, and the importance of reporting them. This year’s campaign focuses on polypharmacy, with the overarching message that reporting side effects helps protect patients when taking multiple medicines.

The HPRA is participating in the annual social media campaign to highlight the importance of reporting side effects. #MedSafetyWeek is a joint effort between 57 medicine regulatory authorities across the globe.

Polypharmacy is defined as the simultaneous use of four or more prescription, over-the-counter or traditional medicines at the same time. Polypharmacy increases the likelihood of a patient having side effects, due to the increased risk of interactions between medicines, and with foods or herb#MedSafetyWeek2019al products. Although polypharmacy is common in older people, anyone who routinely uses multiple medicines at the same time can be affected. This includes people with long-term chronic conditions, who regularly take multiple medicines. 

Regulators such as the HPRA rely on the reporting of suspected side effects to make sure medicines on the market are acceptably safe. Patients, including their carers, and healthcare professionals are asked to report their suspicions of side effects through our online report form.

About the Campaign:

  • #MedSafetyweek will run from November 25 to November 29, 2019. The campaign is a joint effort between 57 medicine regulatory authorities across the globe. It aims to raise awareness on the prevalent topic of polypharmacy amongst patients, carers and healthcare professionals, and highlights the importance of reporting suspected side effects experienced when taking multiple medicines via national reporting systems. The participating medicine regulatory authorities are encouraging healthcare professionals to review their patients’ medications intake, especially when prescribing and administrating multiple medicines, as well as being vigilant to monitor, detect and report suspected side effects. Reporting plays an important role in helping the HPRA monitor the safe use of medicines to protect public health through effective regulation.
  • This campaign forms part of a global initiative led by Uppsala Monitoring Centre (UMC) – the World Health Organisation (WHO) Collaborating Centre for International Drug Monitoring – in collaboration with the Heads of Medicines Agencies (HMA) and the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities (ICMRA).
  • It is important to report suspected side effects as patient susceptibility to experiencing a side effect can increase with age, when medicines are not being metabolised as efficiently as before or the patient is more sensitive to their effects. Patients who take multiple medicines can also experience increased drug–drug interactions inside the body. Every report helps in understanding the benefits and risks of medicines in clinical use and can lead to the discovery of previously unknown side effects and interactions.
  • National reporting systems for the collection of suspected adverse drug reactions (commonly known as side effects) have acted as early warning systems to help identify numerous important safety issues, many of which were not recognised as being related to a particular medicine until reports were received by medicines regulators.
  • The HPRA’s national reporting system is important and is used alongside other scientific safety information to help medicines regulators take action, if necessary, to make changes to the warnings given to people taking a medicine or review the way the medicine is used to maximise benefit and minimise the risk to the patient.
  • Medicines regulators cannot give individual medical advice. If you are worried about your health or suspected side effects, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or nurse.

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