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Low reporting of side effects of children's medicines to general practice

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Healthcare professionals should work with parents to ensure that they report any side effects that children may experience from medications, states a campaign by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

A survey conducted on behalf of the MHRA found that parents in London are the least likely to report side effects that their children experience from medicines to their GP or pharmacist. The research was conducted as part of a campaign to increase reporting from parents and carers of suspected side effects associated with medicines taken by children.

Sixty-nine per cent of London parents said that they would report a side effect to a doctor and 39 per cent said they would ask a pharmacist, compared with 88 per cent and 59 per cent of parents in Wales.

However, London parents were the most likely to report any side effects to the MHRA's Yellow Card Scheme, with 14 per cent of parents consulting them compared with a national average of 9 per cent.

The Yellow Card Scheme records reports of side effects to medicines and vaccines and is used to monitor the safety of medicines, vaccines and complementary medicines in the UK.

Research suggests that only 10 to 15 per cent of serious side effects and between two to four per cent of non-serious side effects are reported in the entire population, with the reporting rate for children nearly half of the total population, although children receive fewer medicines as they experience lower rates of disease than adults.

The MHRA's Yellow Card Scheme gives parents and patients the ability to share their experience of suspected side effects to medicines, and they do not need to rely on a healthcare professional to report. A study completed by Adverse Drug Reactions in Children (ADRIC) found that parents reported their child's adverse drug reaction via the Yellow Card Scheme valued the health opportunity to report their concerns in the own words.

However, information on side-effects is vital for health professionals prescribing medicines.

Dr Hilary Cass, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: ‘Not all medication is perfectly suited to every child, even if they have the same medical condition or complaint. So for children to get quality and effective medication that's right for them it's important that healthcare professionals work with families to report on all side effects, no matter how big or small.'

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