The UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is launching a pilot pharmacovigilance scheme for UK healthcare professionals to report suspected adverse reactions to illicit drugs, especially new psychoactive substances. The scheme has been instigated in response to the growth and increased availability of new psychoactive substances (previously known as ‘legal highs’) and the potentially serious risks to public health that these substances pose.
The MHRA announcement says that hospital admissions for poisoning by psychostimulants with abuse potential have increased by 44% in England and Wales in the last 5 years. Presently, there is little information about the long-term harmful effects of use of such illicit substances, so more monitoring in this area is required. Use of these substances is often accompanied by use of licensed medicines. Via this project, the MHRA will work together more closely with Public Health England on safety issues that affect licensed medicines and illicit drugs.
A pilot reporting website and the Report Illicit Drug Reaction (RIDR) form will be available for one year for UK healthcare professionals to report the details of patients experiencing harm associated with use of illicit drugs, particularly new psychoactive substances. The form is for use by health professionals who work in emergency departments, general practice, drug treatment services, sexual health services, mental health services, and any other services who come into contact with people who have developed acute or chronic problems associated with use of new psychoactive substances.
The reporting website is modelled on the MHRA’s Yellow Card website, thereby delivering a simple reporting process with which many healthcare professionals will already be familiar with.
Suspected adverse drug reactions to licensed medicines should continue to be reported through the Yellow Card website. Suspected interactions between licensed medicines and illicit drugs should also be reported via the Yellow Card scheme.
To read the MHRA’s announcement of the pilot scheme, please click here.