Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
The Ministry of Health and Social Development is encouraging persons to report suspected side effects of medicines as the Virgin Islands joins over 80 countries in observing #MedSafetyWeek.
Chief of Drugs and Pharmaceutical Services, Mrs. Gracia Wheatley-Smith said the week is being observed from November 7 to 13 and focus will be placed locally on the promotion of pharmacovigilance and reporting.
Mrs. Wheatley-Smith said medicines help but they can also harm so that it is important that all users of pharmaceuticals monitor themselves closely when using prescription medicines and report any experienced side or adverse reactions.
She said regulators operate systems to detect and analyse reported side effects and use this information to implement actions that can prevent harm to future patients.
The Chief of Drugs said a side effect is ‘any unintended effect of a pharmaceutical related to the pharmacological properties of the drug’ and an adverse drug reaction (ADR) is ‘a response to a medicine which is harmful, very unpleasant and unintended, and which occurs at doses normally used in man’.
“These experiences, Mrs. Wheatley-Smith said can be fatal, life-threatening, permanently and significantly disabling, may require hospital visit or may prolong hospitalisation, can cause congenital anomaly and may require intervention to prevent permanent impairment or damage.
According to the Chief of Drugs, reporting side effects and ADRs help to improve the safety of medicines for all users and in some cases can result in better tailored prescribing advice by doctors.
“By reporting side-effects and ADRs patients will be actively participating in identifying emerging safety issues with medicines, so that the ministry can take actions when necessary and protect you and others from harm,” Mrs. Whealtey-Smith said.
The community is urged to report any side effect or ADR to the Chief of Drugs and Pharmaceutical Services via telephone at 468-9850 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development remains committed to strengthening social protection policies and programmes, which aim to reducing poverty and inequality, and improving economic security in the Virgin Islands.