Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The Yellow Card Reporting System

I just read a short piece about the Yellow Card scheme, written in The Times by Dr Mark Porter.  This is a system which was set up in in the wake of the thalidomide disaster for reporting adverse side effects of drugs.  He made the point that GPs are presently under fire (fairly, he says) for under-reporting side effects to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) through the system.  But he says that patients should bear some of the responsibility too.

Well.  I, for one, had no idea that such the Yellow Card scheme existed - as Dr Porter puts it, 'uptake has been slow due to a combination of poor awareness and uncertainty about what to report'.  The scheme was extended to include the public in 2005, but last year only 2,216 cards were submitted by hospital doctors and only 2,715 cards were sent in by patients despite the fact that every year adverse drug reactions account for 1 in 16 of all hospital admissions - one million people in England alone. 

He says that Yellow Cards are a 'cornerstone of drug safety in the UK'.     

And when I read this article in the paper, I thought to myself - aha, I know a group of patients who suffer an awful lot of adverse side-effects, so much so that they can outweigh the effects of the drugs.  And I wondered to myself, hmmm, how many of these people are aware of the Yellow Card scheme?

So, mental health patients of the UK, or rather those who suffer from emotional distress (a more unwieldy, but less stigmatising, use of terminology) - report these symptoms, if and when you get them.  Feed back to the MHRA and to those who make psychiatric drugs.  Because more work is definitely needed to make these medicines safe - and you (we) deserve safe medicines.  If the drug companies or the regulatory authorities don't know about the problems because they are not officially reported, then they should be told.

To conclude - the MHRA wants to hear about any side effects which you think might be linked to any medicines - conventional or alternative, prescribed or over the counter.  For example (and I am not trying to put words into anybody's head here): excessive tiredness, obesity, infertility and so on and so forth might be seen as severe side effects.  Headaches, nausea, and so on might be seen as minor - everything should be reported.

The MHRA is particularly interested in knowing about a suspected side-effect that is not mentioned in the information leaflet, or that is severe enough to disrupt your day-to-day life. 

Visit mhra.com to send in a report online or to download a Patient Yellow Card.  Or call the Yellow Card Hotline on 0808 100 3352 (weekdays 10am-2pm).

That's all folks!


  1. Thanks for the information. I doubt if the doctors ever reported the extreme side effects my son developed from Olanzapine and Risperidone. He nearly died; developed NMS on Olanzapine. I am sure the psychiatrist did nothing about it. One of them even told me that you couldn't get NMS from Olanzapine; that it was all imagination. I just can't believe the psychiatrists some times. On one hand you are told: report side effects and when you do, they laugh at you and don't believe you.

  2. I was thinking of you and your son when I wrote this post, and hoping that you would see it! (Assuming you are the Anon I think you are, who has commented on here before). It is people like him/you who should one hundred per cent definitely absolutely fill out one of these cards. Please do.
    I think there are good and not-so-good (and bad, and awful - and perhaps some excellent) psychiatrists; all of them are limited by what they have been taught and by the system in which they work. I hope to continue to be able to keep away (I know your son feels the same).
    All the best, Louise