Intended for healthcare professionals


UK's yellow card scheme to be extended

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 20 November 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:1322
  1. Gavin Yamey
  1. BMJ

    The United Kingdom's yellow card scheme, used since 1964 in the reporting of suspected adverse drug reactions, has been extended to community pharmacists, an initiative that will allow closer monitoring of over the counter and herbal medicines.

    The extension was piloted in April 1997; yellow cards sent by community pharmacists to four regional monitoring centres were compared with those submitted by GPs. The reports were of similar completeness and contained the same proportion of serious adverse reactions.

    However, pharmacists submitted a significantly higher proportion of reports of reactions associated with herbal products and of generic inequivalence, whereby an adverse effect occurs after switching between a branded product and a generic one (Pharmaceutical Journal 1999;263:786-8).

    The Medicines Control Agency, which jointly runs the scheme with the Committee on Safety of Medicines, receives about 17000 yellow cards each year from hospital doctors, GPs, dentists, coroners, and (since 1997) hospital pharmacists.

    These cards provide early warnings of drug toxicity and can be used to identify those most at risk of adverse reactions. They also allow long term monitoring of a product, identifying adverse events occurring several years after its introduction.

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