Tag Archives: NHS

“worse than Hitler” “pharma-whore”

A government adviser on the use of antidepressants has resigned after being called “worse than Hitler” and a “pharma-whore” in a campaign of harassment that he has accused colleagues of fomenting.

David Baldwin claimed that a fellow adviser helped to fan the flames of online abuse in a row over the effects of the drugs. The controversy began when he wrote to The Times in February to downplay the side-effects of coming off the drugs, saying: “In the vast majority of patients, any unpleasant symptoms experienced on discontinuing antidepressants have resolved within two weeks of stopping treatment.”

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/drugs-adviser-david-baldwin-quits-after-being-branded-worse-than-hitler-in-online-abuse-row-srtqltmfs

Valium: What is it used for and why are people buying it on the street?

Harriet Williamson Wednesday 19 Sep 2018 8:12 am Last November, Christina Craig died after taking a fake Valium pill. The tablets were known as ‘Blue Plague’. She was the fourth in a group of six friends in Glasgow to lose her life to what she believed to be Valium.

Scottish police estimate that there could be millions of fake Valium pills on the streets. Why is there a thriving market for the drug? Why aren’t users getting it on prescription?

Valium, also known as Diazepam, is part of a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. It’s a sedative recommended for short-term treatment only because it can quickly become addictive.

Valium isn’t usually prescribed for longer than two to four weeks at a time, and some GPs are uncomfortable prescribing it at all. The NHS lists the side effects of benzodiazepines as including drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, vertigo, low sex drive, headaches and the development of a tremor.

After four weeks of use, benzodiazepines may start to lose their efficiency, meaning that you need a higher dose to get the same effect. The way Valium loses potency and the potential for addiction are two reasons why GPs don’t regularly prescribe the drug for long-term conditions like anxiety, as they did when it was first released. Valium was created by Leo Sternbach and released in 1963. It became one of the most frequently prescribed medications in the world, and between 1968 and 1982, it was the highest selling medication in the US. More than two billion tablets were sold in 1978 alone.

Anxiety and insomnia had previously been treated with barbiturates, which caused extreme withdrawal symptoms, were highly addictive and easy to overdose with. Benzodiazepines like Valium seemed like the safer and more effective option, and they became the prescription solution for every problem.

The drug was particularly associated with women, and in 1966, the Rolling Stones even wrote a song about it, entitled ‘Mother’s Little Helper’. It took a long time for the addictive nature and negative side-effects of benzodiazepines to be recognised, despite research in the 1980s linking the long-term use of this drug group to brain damage and calling the drug ‘more difficult to withdraw people from than heroin’.

The NHS is now supposed to prescribe benzodiazepines for a maximum of four weeks to curb the potential for addiction. However, some doctors are failing to stick to guidelines published more than 20 years ago.

Full Metro article

J.J.’s story

4 years is nothing. 4 years is a black spot on a clean canvas that you can only really see if you step over those red rope barriers in museums that stop you from getting too close. But 4 years of depression and anxiety left my life paralyzed from the early teens onwards. It came in waves, waves of not being able to leave my bed, wishing I was dead, crying until my eyes were burning and my brain felt like it was under a hydraulic press.

Being 15 – noting that I’m 16 now – my mother was desperate. She was frustrated, blaming herself, my father, mostly just me, though. I couldn’t face going to school, so I missed most of the high school experience, I couldn’t even leave my room most days.

We tried aromatherapy. I had candles and drank herbal mixtures and dropped two drops of flower water onto my tongue a day. I had mouth sprays and scent sticks and special herbal chewing gum. That didn’t work so well.

We tried tapping, sort of like massage therapy. I’d tap areas of my body and tell it I will go to school tomorrow. I didn’t.

We tried therapy. My mother took me to a counsellor named Mindy who made me cinnamon tea. Later, I saw an Anne who let me play with the fidget toys she had in a box in the corner. Then I got to the top of the CAMHS waiting list and I saw a Sandra who brought in aromatic play-dough to make me feel more relaxed. Then I got to an Adrienne, who had a fun accent. After her came Linda, who said ‘breasts’ too much.

Then I got Dr Tom.
I’d done CBT – it hadn’t helped. I was missing my GCSEs due to anxiety – I was thrown deeper into depression. My relationship with my mother was angry yells and her being disappointed in me every time she saw me (or, that’s what it felt like to a 15-year-old).

I couldn’t live like this anymore.
Dr Tom explained, in much detail, that medication – Fluoxetine, 20mg – was a last-ditch effort to try to keep my 4 years of misery from becoming 5.

I’d had friends who’d benefitted from taking medication, so when I wasn’t opposed to the idea, my mother agreed. Desperate times and all that.

Dr Tom had explained the side effects to me, and how if they surpassed the two-week mark, I was to call his office immediately. Dizziness, nausea, suicidal thoughts. I was willing.

The first few days, I was dizzy. My head felt heavy and I felt like I was floating. No nausea, no suicidal thoughts.

A week later, I did get a dark cloud over my head. It didn’t last long, but it was there.

A week later, I’d tidied my room. The first time in months.

A month later, I looked up courses in local colleges. I didn’t cry about missing my GCSEs.

6 months later, I set up a board of aspirations and was slowly ticking them off.

A year later, I bought a pet budgie, whom I look after. That’s a lot of responsibility for someone who couldn’t look after themselves last year.

When the time came to come off of my meds, I had no side effects. I was living. I was alive. I had plans, I didn’t look around and hate where I was in life. I was something. Not nothing. 4 years of dark at the end of the tunnel, and suddenly there was light. And it wasn’t a train coming right at me this time, I’d actually found the end of the tunnel!
I’ve been off Prozac for a few months by now. I dyed my hair the other day and laughed when it didn’t come out the way I wanted it to.

When I was 13, if my hair wasn’t right, my anxiety would have me missing days of school to cry on my bedroom floor. My bird, Archie, is my best bud, and likes to sit on my shoulder. I volunteer at an animal rescue and walk the dogs. I used to cross the street when one was coming towards me. I want to learn sign language. I’m going to a concert next year. I go to a drama club. I take the train. I read books. I spend time with my friends. I smile at strangers. I’m not angry anymore.

Prescription drugs can be awful. It can turn something bad into something worse and make someone scared into someone scary.
But I’d been scared for so long.
And I’m not anymore. I’m unsure that I ever will be again.
Whatever prescription drugs are to you, I wish you luck, and remind you there is hope.
cool. peace.

Common painkiller prescribed to MILLIONS increases risk of a stroke

  • Taking the drug diclofenac also raises the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding

  • Diclofenac was banned over-the-counter in the UK due to heart concerns

  • It can still be bought from pharmacies in its gel form, such as Voltaren

A common painkiller that is prescribed to millions in the UK may increase a person’s risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke by 50 per cent, research suggests.

A study of more than 6.3 million adults found that diclofenac, which is prescribed under the brand names Motifene and Diclomax among others, also puts patients at a higher risk of gastrointestinal bleeding compared to other painkillers.

Diclofenac is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that is approved for the relief of gout, severe allergic conjunctivitis, pain post surgery and arthritis in the UK.

Heart concerns caused British regulators to ban tablet forms of the drug from being sold over-the-counter in 2015. It can still be bought from pharmacies in its gel form, such as Voltaren, to relieve pain and inflammation.

On the back of the study’s findings, published in the British Medical Journal, the Danish researchers are calling from the drug’s UK ban to be expanded worldwide.

The scientists, from Aarhus University Hospital, said: ‘It is time to acknowledge the potential health risk of diclofenac and reduce its use.

‘Dicofenac should not be available over the counter and when prescribed should be accompanied by an appropriate front package warning about its potential risks.’

The scientists analysed national registry data for millions of Danish adults.

Full story

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-6133497/Common-painkiller-prescribed-MILLIONS-UK-increases-persons-risk-having-stroke.html

(Cough) One in seven patients experiencing negative side effects, study finds

Coughs cost the UK economy nearly £1bn a year in lost productivity and sick days, with a further £100m bill for the NHS in seeing patients who will get better on their own.

There is no evidence that medicines for persistent coughs have any benefit, and one in seven patients actually experience negative side effects, a study has found.

Swiss researchers comparing the medications against a placebo found no examples where they significantly sped up recovery or improved patient wellbeing in any of the other areas tested.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/cough-medicine-work-help-persistent-symptoms-weeks-asthma-a8531286.html

Heath Ledger – awareness

Overdose awareness Day!

Heath Ledger, Prescription drugs and overdose.

‘It was [10] years ago … but to me it’s like it was yesterday.’

These are the words of Kim Ledger as he recalled the loss of his son Heath to an opioid overdose in January 2008.

The 28-year-old actor had been caught up in a punishing production schedule, flying between three different countries and filming scenes at night in the bitter cold. He contracted a chest infection that developed into pneumonia, and experienced insomnia.

Heath visited a variety of doctors on his travels to help deal with these problems, collecting a veritable cornucopia of prescription medications, including opioids and sleeping pills.

In combination, the opioids, sleeping pills and the chest infection itself had a depressing effect on Heath’s respiratory system, causing it to shut down. This made him a high-profile casualty of what was emerging as a prescription opioid epidemic, which includes the use of legal drugs such as codeine, fentanyl and oxycodone.

This phenomenon has claimed thousands of lives in Australia and around the world.

While Heath’s death was the result of a medication mix he didn’t realise would exact such a heavy toll, other opioid users have a more long-term relationship with these types of drugs, often becoming unexpectedly addicted after using them as a treatment for chronic non-malignant pain.

‘The accidental addict. In a very short space of time, people can become addicted to oxycodone and products like that,’ Kim said.

Such was the case of 30-year-old nurse and mother of two, Katie Howman, found dead following a fentanyl overdose in her Toowoomba home just before Christmas in 2013. Investigations revealed she had visited 20 different doctors and 15 different pharmacies over the previous 13 months in her search for opioids.

Opioids – a category that includes pharmaceuticals such as oxycodone and fentanyl, as well as illicit versions such as heroin – remain the main cause of accidental overdose death in Australia. Opioid-related deaths hovered at around 450 per year at the turn of the century, but these numbers have risen sharply since 2006 to hit over 1100 per year since 2014.

What has led us to this epidemic, and what can GPs do to help curb it?

Too good to be true
In the late 1990s, prescription opioids seemed like an ideal answer to the often-difficult problem of chronic, non-malignant pain.

‘There was an increased demand to treat chronic pain. There were very few options and very little research that had been done on this problem,’ Dr Evan Ackermann, a GP with a special interest in opioids, told the RACGP.

‘This was mixed with a situation of some fairly aggressive drug company marketing of opioids and a change of clinical attitude towards pain. Normally, pain would be part of the healing process, but people started to say we should be looking at pain as the “fifth sign” and treating it aggressively.

‘It was a cultural shift across the healthcare sector, across the board, from pharmacy right through to general practice, specialists and hospitals.’…………….
‘There is a sense out there sometimes that it’s just people choosing to do this, that there’s a dichotomy between the genuine-pain patient and the bad drug user,’ she said. ‘My experience is that they’re the same group of people.

‘Opioids interact with us as a species in a particular way; all of us are at risk of side-effects and one of those major side-effects is dependency and addiction.’

………….

full story

Exerpt from:https://www.racgp.org.au/newsGP/Clinical/Agony-and-ecstasy-Prescription-drugs-and-overdose

The needs of the older generation being met by prescribed medication?

I’m a great believer in respecting our elders and them passing on their knowledge and experience to help us get on in life. Yes, many have outdated ideas or perceptions of “the youth today” and have old fashioned values. But they are still here, many into their 80’s and 90’s. Many are fitter than us mid lifers. So why is it that as soon as you are 65 or pensionable age, you are considered by current legislation, an older person. That’s the age we should start to decline, shouldn’t be working or maybe not long on this mortal coil?

We may have reasonable health and fitness most of our working life but it’s at this point, earlier for some and much later for others, that especially after retirement, we “start to fall apart”. The mind set for many?

All the education we have about getting older gracefully, keep active physically or mentally, something kicks in and we start to have “problems”.

Many are lucky and can keep going but with many more this mind set of getting older brings on comparing ailments and frequent trips to the surgery and with it automatic prescriptions. We’ve been used to being prescribed medication throughout our years but usually only short term, 1 week, a month. But as we get older the prescriptions are ongoing, repeated every month, without need to see a doctor. Yes they have reviews but how many people remember how they felt before being prescribed. Some even admit to not following their medication guidelines.

It seems standard that most have at least 4 prescribed meds. Ailments usually arthritis, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes and more often than not, have been victim of a stroke. May have only been a TIA, but medication suddenly gets tripled and doesn’t get questioned. A few do look at their life style and diet so as to refrain from having to take anything, but most accept they are getting older and increased medication comes with the territory.

In my work I have met people who will not go to have their cataracts removed or go for that hearing test their children keep on at them about, but will accept the side effects from the multiple medications they are on. This is often out of fear that something will go wrong or that they’ll seem like an elderly person. Yet unknowing either having more health problems as a result of long term use or becoming addicted to certain medication.

What are our older population being prescribed? How do we know which are not appropriate for elderly use. Some antipsychotic drugs may not be appropriate for our older population with dementia especially women as can worsen confusion. Some drugs can have adverse effects or even have no effect at all due to long term usage.

When visiting our local surgeries, we never get to see our doctor anymore. It could be another partner or a locum. All experienced and qualified, but may not know our history. When discharged from hospital, additional medication is prescribed. More work is needed to educate our older trusting more vulnerable members of our communities to ensure their medication is appropriate, in date, not counter active to other medication prescribed and most important, the side effects are not going to be life threatening.

Further reading

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/389014/Fears-over-lazy-GPs-prescribing-strong-sleeping-pills-to-elderly

https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-gb/home/older-people%E2%80%99s-health-issues/aging-and-drugs/aging-and-drugs

(C.W. actively works to ensure that all older people are safe, secure and their needs are appropriately met.)

‘Unnecessary’ painkillers could leave thousands addicted, doctors warn | Science | The Guardian

Prescriptions for powerful opioid painkillers have doubled from 12m to 24m in past decade, NHS Digital figures reveal

Dependency, addiction, opiate painkillers

Dependency, addiction, opiate painkillers

Powerful and potentially addictive opiate painkillers are being handed out too readily, leading doctors have warned after it emerged that the number of times the drugs are being prescribed in the UK has doubled in the past decade.

The Faculty of Pain Medicine and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society said they were worried about the high and growing use of opioid drugs such as codeine and tramadol – while other experts warn that hundreds of thousands of patients could be addicted to them.

Dr Barry Miller, dean of the Faculty of Pain Medicine, said that the increase in the prescription rates of painkillers in the UK should be “met with concern”, adding: “While some of the increase can be attributed to an improved understanding of the effectiveness of these medications by medical professionals, we are concerned by reports of unnecessary prescription.”

More on this story

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/may/05/unnecessary-opioid-painkiller-prescriptions-thousands-addicted-nhs-doctors-warn

Are All Psychiatric Drugs Too Unsafe to Take?

An interesting article found at
http://mindfreedom.uk/psychiatric-drugs-unsafe-take/

Psychiatric drugs are more dangerous than you have ever imagined. If you haven’t been prescribed one yet, you are among the lucky few. If you or a loved one are taking psychiatric drugs, there is hope; but you need to understand the dangers and how to minimize the risk.

The following overview focuses on longer-term psychiatric drug hazards, although most of them can begin to develop within weeks. They are scientifically documented in my recent book Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal and my medical text Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry, Second Edition.

Newer or atypical antipsychotic drugs: Risperdal, Invega, Zyprexa, Abilify, Geodon, Seroquel, Latuda, Fanapt and Saphris

Antipsychotic drugs, including both older and newer ones, cause shrinkage (atrophy) of the brain in many human brain scan studies and in animal autopsy studies. The newer atypicals especially cause a well-documented metabolic syndrome including elevated blood sugar, diabetes, increased cholesterol, obesity and hypertension. They also produce dangerous cardiac arrhythmias and unexplained sudden death, and they significantly reduce longevity. In addition, they cause all the problems of the older drugs, such as Thorazine and Haldol, including tardive dyskinesia, a largely permanent and sometimes disabling and painful movement disorder caused by brain damage and biochemical disruptions.

Risperdal in particular but others as well cause potentially permanent breast enlargement in young boys and girls. The overall risk of harmful long-term effects from antipsychotic drugs exceeds the capacity of this review. Withdrawal from antipsychotic drugs can cause overwhelming emotional and neurological suffering, as well as psychosis in both children and adults, making complete cessation at times very difficult or impossible.

Despite their enormous risks, the newer antipsychotic drugs are now frequently used off-label to treat anything from anxiety and depression to insomnia and behavior problems in children. Two older antipsychotic drugs, Reglan and Compazine, are used for gastrointestinal problems, and despite small or short-term dosing, they too can cause problems, including tardive dyskinesia.

Antipsychotic drugs masquerading as sleep aids: Seroquel, Abilify, Zyprexa and others

Nowadays, many patients are given medications for insomnia without being told that they are in fact receiving very dangerous antipsychotic drugs. This can happen with any antipsychotic but most frequently occurs with Seroquel, Abilify and Zyprexa. The patient is unwittingly exposed to all the hazards of antipsychotic drugs.

Antipsychotic drugs masquerading as antidepressant and bipolar drugs: Seroquel, Abilify, Zyprexa and others

The FDA has approved some antipsychotic drugs as augmentation for treating depression along with antidepressants. As a result, patients are often misinformed that they are getting an “antidepressant” when they are in fact getting one of the newer antipsychotic drugs, with all of their potentially disastrous adverse effects. Patients are similarly misled by being told that they are getting a “bipolar” drug when it is an antipsychotic drug.

Antidepressants: SSRIs such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Viibyrd, as well as Effexor, Pristiq, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta and Vivalan

The SSRIs are probably the most fully studied antidepressants, but the following observations apply to most or all antidepressants. These drugs produce long-term apathy and loss of quality of life. Many studies of SSRIs show severe brain abnormalities, such as shrinkage (atrophy) with brain cell death in humans and the growth of new abnormal brain cells in animal and laboratory studies. They frequently produce an apathy syndrome — a generalized loss of motivation or interest in many or all aspects of life. The SSRIs frequently cause irreversible dysfunction and loss of interest in sexuality, relationship and love. Withdrawal from all antidepressants can cause a wide variety of distressing and dangerous emotional reactions from depression to mania and from suicide to violence. After withdrawal from antidepressants, individuals often experience persistent and distressing mental and neurological impairments. Some people find antidepressant withdrawal to be so distressing that they cannot fully stop taking the drugs.

Benzodiazepine (benzos) anti-anxiety drugs and sleep aids: Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Valium, Librium, Tranxene and Serax; Dalmane, Doral, Halcion, ProSom and Restoril used as sleep aids

Benzos deteriorate memory and other mental capacities. Human studies demonstrate that they frequently lead to atrophy and dementia after longer-term exposure. After withdrawal, individuals exposed to these drugs also experience multiple persisting problems including memory and cognitive dysfunction, emotional instability, anxiety, insomnia, and muscular and neurological discomforts. Mostly because of severely worsened anxiety and insomnia, many cannot stop taking them and become permanently dependent. This frequently happens after only six weeks of exposure. Any benzo can be prescribed as a sleep aid, but Dalmane, Doral, Halcion, ProSom and Restoril are marketed for that purpose.

Non-benzo sleep aids: Ambien, Intermezzo, Lunesta and Sonata

These drugs pose similar problems to the benzos, including memory and other mental problems, dependence and painful withdrawal. They can cause many abnormal mental states and behaviors, including dangerous sleepwalking. Insufficient data is available concerning brain shrinkage and dementia, but these are likely outcomes considering their similarity to benzos. Recent studies show that these drugs increase death rate, taking away years of life, even when used intermittently for sleep.

Stimulants for ADHD: Adderall, Dexedrine and Vyvanse are amphetamines, and Ritalin, Focalin, and Concerta are methylphenidate

All of these drugs pose similar if not identical long-term dangers to children and adults. In humans, many brain scan studies show that they cause brain tissue shrinkage (atrophy). Animal studies show persisting biochemical changes in the brain. These drugs can lead directly to addiction or increase the risk of abusing cocaine and other stimulants later on in adulthood. They disrupt growth hormone cycles and can cause permanent loss of height in children. Recent studies confirm that children who take these drugs often become lifelong users of multiple psychiatric drugs, resulting in shortened lifespan, increased psychiatric hospitalization and criminal incarceration, increased drug addiction, increased suicide and a general decline in quality of life. Withdrawal from stimulants can cause “crashing” with worsened behavior, depression and suicide. Strattera is a newer drug used to treat ADHD. Unlike the other stimulants, it is not an addictive amphetamine, but it too can be dangerously overstimulating. Strattera is more similar to antidepressants in its longer-term risks.

Mood stabilizers: Lithium, Lamictal, Equetro and Depakote

Lithium is the oldest and hence most thoroughly studied. It causes permanent memory and mental dysfunction, including depression, and an overall decline in neurological function and quality of life. It can result in severe neurological dilapidation with dementia, a disastrous adverse drug effect called “syndrome of irreversible lithium-effectuated neurotoxicity” or SILENT. Long-term lithium exposure also causes severe skin disorders, kidney failure and hypothyroidism. Withdrawal from lithium can cause manic-like episodes and psychosis. There is evidence that Depakote can cause abnormal cell growth in the brain. Lamictal has many hazards including life-threatening diseases involving the skin and other organs. Equetro cases life-threatening skin disorders and suppresses white cell production with the risk of death from infections. Withdrawal from Depakote, Lamictal and Equetro can cause seizures and emotional distress.

Summarizing the tragic truth

It is time to face the enormous tragedy of exposing children and adults to any psychiatric drug for months and years. My new video introduces and highlights these risks and my book Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal describes them in detail and documents them with scientific research.

All classes of psychiatric drugs can cause brain damage and lasting mental dysfunction when used for months or years. Although research data is lacking for a few individual drugs in each class, until proven otherwise it is prudent and safest to assume that the risks of brain damage and permanent mental dysfunction apply to every single psychiatric drug. Furthermore, all classes of psychiatric drugs cause serious and dangerous withdrawal reactions, and again it is prudent and safest to assume that any psychiatric drug can cause withdrawal problems.

Widespread misinformation

Difficulty in stopping psychiatric drugs can lead misinformed or unscrupulous health professionals to tell patients that they need to take their drugs for the rest of their lives when they really need to taper and withdraw from them in a careful manner. As described in Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, tapering outside of a hospital often requires psychological and social help, including therapy and emotional support and monitoring by friends or family.

Meanwhile, there is no substantial or convincing evidence that any psychiatric drug is useful longer-term. Psychiatric drug treatment for months or years lacks scientific basis. Therefore, the risk-benefit ratio is enormously lopsided toward the risk.

Science-based conclusions

Whenever possible, psychiatric drugs should be tapered and withdrawn either as an inpatient or as an outpatient with careful clinical supervision and a support network as described in Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal. Keep in mind that it is not only dangerous to take psychiatric drugs — it can be dangerous to withdraw from them. The safest solution is to avoid starting psychiatric drugs! It is time for a return to psychological, social and educational approaches to emotional suffering and impairment.

Psychiatrist Peter R. Breggin‘s scientific and educational work has provided the foundation for modern criticism of psychiatric drugs and electroconvulsive therapy. He leads the way in promoting more caring, empathic and effective therapies. His newest book is Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions. His website is Breggin.com.

Peter R. Breggin, MD is a psychiatrist in private practice in Ithaca, New York. Dr. Breggin criticizes contemporary psychiatric reliance on diagnoses and drugs, and promotes empathic therapeutic relationships. He has been called “the Conscience of Psychiatry.” See his website at www.Breggin.com

Take a look at “Yellow Card Scheme”

The Yellow Card Scheme is vital in helping the MHRA monitor the safety of all healthcare products in the UK to ensure they are acceptably safe for patients and those that use them. Reports can be made for all medicines including vaccines, blood factors and immunoglobulins, herbal medicines and homeopathic remedies, and all medical devices available on the UK market. From the 20th of May 2016, the MHRA is also collecting reports of safety concerns associated with e-cigarette products through the Yellow Card Scheme.

The Scheme collects information on suspected problems or incidents involving

  1. side effects (also known as adverse drug reactions or ADRs)
  2. medical device adverse incidents
  3. defective medicines (those that are not of an acceptable quality)
  4. counterfeit or fake medicines or medical devices
  5. safety concerns for e-cigarettes or their refill containers (e-liquids)

It is important for people to report problems experienced with medicines or medical devices as these are used to identify issues which might not have been previously known about. The MHRA will review the product if necessary, and take action to minimise risk and maximise benefit to the patients. The MHRA is also able to investigate counterfeit or fake medicines or devices and if necessary take action to protect public health.

Side effects to a medicine, vaccine, herbal or complementary remedy

All medicines can cause side effects (commonly referred to as adverse drug reactions or ADRs by healthcare professionals).

Side effects reported on Yellow Card are evaluated, together with additional sources of information such as clinical trial data, medical literature or data from international medicines regulators, to identify previously unknown safety issues. These reports are assessed by a team of medicine safety experts made up of doctors, pharmacists and scientists who study the benefits and risks of medicines. If a new side effect is identified, the safety profile of the medicine in question is carefully looked at, as well as the side effects of other medicines used to treat the same condition. The MHRA takes action, whenever necessary, to ensure that medicines are used in a way that minimises risk, while maximising patient benefit.

See our animation below, developed as part of an EU wide social media campaign from the Strengthening Collaborations to Operate Pharmacovigilance in Europe (SCOPE) Joint Action project. It can also be viewed on MHRA’s YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/3et5LdYLc8M.

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