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MHRA launches Yellow Card awareness campaign

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority is urging patients and pharmacists to play a greater role in the improvement and safety of prescription drugs and medication.

The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority (MHRA) is urging patients and pharmacists to play a greater role in the improvement and safety of prescription drugs and medication.

A six-week campaign has been launched aimed at raising awareness of the Yellow Card Scheme that enables patients to report side effects caused by prescribed drugs.

Pharmacists are being pressed by the MHRA to make their patients aware of the scheme.

"Pharmacies are the local place for reporting in the community," said Dr June Raine, director of risk management of medicines for the MHRA. "Together not only are we able to gain better insights into the safety of medicines, but we can more directly involve people in medicines regulation."

Over 20,000 reporting cards are received annually via the Yellow Card Scheme, which was set up in the wake of the thalidomide tragedy.

More recently, in 2001 Yellow Card reports identified that seizures were being caused by the smoking cessation drug Zyban.

Despite extensive testing that all drugs must undergo, some side effects will not be discovered until their general use by the public.

Raines said that community pharmacies and health outlets have a "key role to play, both in the promotion of the YC scheme to the public, as well as continuing to identify and report suspected side effects."

The MHRA will this week issue pharmacists with information packs containing Yellow Card reporting forms, leaflets and posters, and advice on how to promote the scheme to their patients.

One of the key elements of the campaign is to make the reporting system more simple and accessible to the general public.

A spokesman for the National Pharmacy Association (NRA) said: "Yellow Cards used to be the domain of just the healthcare professional, but I think the MHRA have now made them much easier to use for the public."

18th February 2008

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