12% of children at risk of undetected/unreported adverse drug reactions

More than 1 in 10 (12%) children are at risk of undetected/unreported adverse drug reactions (ADRs) according to new research launched at the British Pharmaceutical Conference.

A pilot study carried out in community pharmacies in Grampian showed that more than 1 in 10 children were reported by parents to have suffered an ADR from drugs they had been prescribed or had bought over the counter. The most common reported problem was diarrhoea as a result of taking amoxicillin.

Little is known about ADRs in children. However, available information suggests that up to 2% of paediatric hospital admissions are due to an ADR. Furthermore, between 9%-11% of children are thought to suffer from an ADR either as hospital inpatients or in the community.

The Grampian study collected data on children under 12 years old. Relevant information was obtained in the pharmacy and the parent was then asked to complete a five-day diary recording any perceived side effects.

Clinical Pharmacologist, Dr James McLay, said that there is a clear need for an efficient and comprehensive way to monitor ADRs in children. “ADRs in children are slipping through the net. We needed to find a systematic way to encourage parents to report on behalf of their children,’’ he said.

Dr McLay said that this study proved the suitability of community pharmacies for reporting and monitoring ADRs in children for both prescribed and over the counter medicines. “Based in the heart of the community, pharmacists are accessible and ideally placed for parents who want to report ADRs in their children,” he said.

Dr McLay added that community pharmacists are key professionals for reporting ADRs to the Committee on Safety of Medicines for the whole population.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) is the regulatory and professional body for pharmacists in England, Scotland and Wales. The primary objective of the RPSGB is to lead, regulate and develop the pharmacy profession.

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