22 centres opened to monitor drug side effects

NEW DELHI: India has put in place 22 monitoring centres to combat adverse drug reactions (ADR) -- unintended side effects, some of which could prove fatal.

These centers have been put under the country's new pharmaco vigilance programme.

Records say between 2006 and 2008, India saw 11,633 cases of ADRs.

Under the country's new programme -- since September 2010 -- 1,394 cases of ADR have been reported.

None of the ADRs, however, has led to any restriction/prohibition on any drug in the country so far.

In some countries, ADR-related costs -- such as hospitalisation, surgery and lost productivity -- exceed the cost of medication.

"No medicine is risk free. Vigilant assessment of the risks and benefits of medicines promotes patient safety," said an expert.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi has been made the national coordination centre for monitoring ADRs in the country. Among the 22 centres, Delhi has two, including AIIMS, West Bengal (2), Tamil Nadu (2), Orissa (2), Jammu and Kashmir (2) with Assam, Chandigarh, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry, Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Haryana and Punjab one each.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 60% of ADRs are preventable, and can occur due to wrong diagnosis of the patient's condition, prescription of the wrong drug or wrong dosage of the right drug, an undetected medical, genetic or allergic condition that might cause a patient reaction, self-medication with prescription medicines, not following the instructions for taking the medication and use of a sub-standard medication whose composition and ingredients do not meet the correct scientific requirements and can be ineffective and often dangerous.

WHO says, "the safety of medicines is an essential part of patient safety. Global drug safety depends on strong national systems that monitor the development and quality of medicines, report their harmful effects and provide accurate information for their safe use. Preventing and detecting adverse effects from medicines is termed pharmacovigilance. No drug is without risk and all medicines have side effects, some of which can be fatal."