Advocate

To improve prescription drug safety, it is important for hospitals and consumers to report adverse drug reactions to government regulators of the pharmaceutical industry.

Hospitals

Encourage the hospital in your community to report adverse drug reactions to the government regulator of the pharmaceutical industry in your country.

In 1998, after analyzing data from hospitals in the United States, researchers concluded that drug-induced deaths in hospitals was an important clinical issue to examine. The data from 1994, for example, showed that adverse drug reactions was the fourth to sixth leading cause of death in American hospitals.

If this analysis would have been similar in other countries, and is still valid today, the number of deaths caused by adverse drug reactions in hospitals worldwide could be extremely high with Statistics Canada, for example, reporting that 66% of all deaths in Canada in 2014 were in hospitals.

Continuing with Canada as an example, since the regulations for Vanessa’s Law (Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act) went into effect on December 16, 2019, it is now mandatory for hospitals to report serious adverse drug reactions to Health Canada, the government regulator of the pharmaceutical industry, within 30 days of the incident being documented.

The data that Health Canada collects will help determine if adverse drug reactions in hospitals is a leading cause of death in Canada.

Consumers

Encourage your family and friends to report adverse drug reactions as a consumer, parent, guardian or caregiver to the government regulator of the pharmaceutical industry in their country. The more reports the government regulator receives, the more likely it is to require a pharmaceutical company to do further testing, issue a safety warning and, if necessary, recall an unsafe prescription drug.

Before they submit a government report, it might be helpful for them to get a free RxISK Report which indicates how likely it is that the adverse reaction was caused by a drug side effect. Many people think that drug side effects are symptoms of the illness, disease or disorder the drug is supposed to treat. Some people even think they got their prescription just in time because their condition got worse shortly after starting the drug, not being aware that what they experienced might have been an adverse drug reaction.

RxISK Reports can also be shared with prescribing doctors, who are often not aware of the most serious side effects of a drug, such as death or permanent disability, because of the fraudulent concealment by a pharmaceutical company of negative data from clinical trials or post-approval studies. In some cases, this deception goes on for decades. A good example is Purdue Pharma, which concealed clinical trial data about how addicting the opioid painkiller OxyContin was to get it approved in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration in 1995, which prevented people from making informed choices about use. By 2019, OxyContin and other opioids had caused hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths worldwide.