§ Mr. Carter-Jones
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proposals he has to encourage doctors to report suspected adverse reactions from drugs to the Commission of Safety of Drugs; if he will take action to make such reporting easier; if he will give publicity to possible adverse effects of certain drugs; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir K. Joseph
Reports of suspected adverse reactions to medicinal products for human use are made to the Committee on Safety of Medicines set up under Section 4 of the Medicines Act, 1968, whose terms of reference include promoting the collection and investigation of information relating to adverse reactions for the purpose of enabling the Committee to advise Ministers on this subject. This is in continuation of the work previously done by the Committee on Safety of Drugs. The new Committee has the same membership.
For some years arrangements promoted by the Committee on Safety of Drugs have been in existence to facilitate reporting of suspected adverse reactions by supplying doctors with reply paid report cards for this purpose. Recently the 95W Committee on Safety of Medicines has revised the format of the card to make its completion easier. As soon as the new cards are printed the Committee proposes to send a supply to all doctors and dentists in the United Kingdom with a covering letter urging the maximum use of these arrangements. The Committee also hopes to stimulate reporting by improving the feed-back of information about adverse reactions both direct to the professions and through regular contributions to the medical press. Members of the Committee and members of my medical staff also give lectures to professional audiences on this subject.
The information collected from doctors and other sources is analysed and studied by the Committee. Any information about individual patients is treated as strictly in confidence but arrangements exist for providing all practitioners who send in reports, and others who request information, with summaries of reports of reactions to particular drugs; all particulars identifying patients are excluded.
It is the Committee's policy to ensure that all doctors and others concerned are alerted to serious hazards of which it becomes aware, by sending them warning leaflets in a special Adverse Reactions Series On less serious but nevertheless important matters publicity is given by means of letters to doctors, dentists and practising pharmacists as appropriate, or by mention in the Committee's Annual Report. On occasion reports on studies commissioned by the Committee have also been published in medical journals.