Intended for healthcare professionals


Can adverse drug reactions be detected earlier? A comparison of reports by patients and professionals

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 31 August 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:530
  1. Toine C G Egberts, research fellowa,
  2. Maartje Smulders, studentb,
  3. Fred H P de Koning, pharmacistb,
  4. Ronald H B Meyboom, physicianb,
  5. Hubert G M Leufkens, associate professor of pharmacoepidemiologya
  1. a Department of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacotherapy, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, PO Box 80.082, 3508 TB Utrecht, Netherlands,
  2. b Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Foundation LAREB, 5026 RH Tilburg, Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Egberts.
  • Accepted 8 March 1996

The occurrence of previously unknown adverse reactions after the marketing of a new drug is inevitable given the limitations of preregistration clinical trials. Nevertheless, their impact on public health should be minimised by ensuring that reactions are detected as early as possible. The reporting of suspected adverse drug reactions by health care professionals to monitoring agencies1 and to medical journals2 has been important in alerting doctors to drug safety problems, but Mitchell et al suggested that the time lag to the first reports of adverse reactions might be shortened if patients themselves reported adverse events.3 For a newly introduced antidepressant we compared the time to reporting of adverse drug reactions by patients and by health care professionals.

Methods and results

A telephone medicines information service was started in 1990 by the Dutch Ministry of Health and …

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