cartoon It’s medicines safety week this week, and medicines continue to be an avoidable harm of modern healthcare. Modern pharmacovigilance stems from the birth defects arising from the use of thalidomide, but despite improvements in pharmacovigilance new issues arise with both new medicines and ancient medicines. Some issues with well established drugs can rumble on for years before effective action is taken.

A useful update on your knowledge of adverse drug reactions and how harms can be reduced can be found at the BMJ written by Ferner and McGettigan.

One meaningful outcome of this week, should be a commitment to improving medicines safety by reporting an adverse drug reaction to regulatory authorities by the end of the year. Do it before the leaf turns, and when the leaf has turned make it a habit of your practice.

Only by pooling our efforts can we improve medicines safety, and each report contributes to detecting and dealing with the safety issues that cause. In the UK, you can report via the Yellow Card Scheme if you are a patient or healthcare professional, but if you aren’t based in the UK there will be a system for you.

The picture at the top of this post is from the Uppsala Monitoring Centre, who are running an excellent social media campaign to raise awareness globally along with regulatory bodies around the world.