§ Mr. Lewis Stevens
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has accepted the recommendations contained in the report of the Committee on Safety of Medicines working party on adverse reactions.
§ Mr. Kenneth Clarke
I welcome the report. The majority of its recommendations have already either been implemented by the Committee on Safety of Medicines itself or by our Department or are currently the subject of discussion between the committee, the relevant professional bodies and the pharmaceutical industry. I342W have now agreed that funds should be made available to act on the following proposals so that work can commence on their implementation in the 1984-85 financial year:
Prescribing DataUp-to-date prescribing data are required by the CSM to assess the likely incidence of adverse reactions to a drug. The present procedures of the Prescription Pricing Authority do not allow that organisation to supply such data to the CSM sufficiently quickly for it to be of value in assessing the safety of medicines. It should, however, be able to provide these data sufficiently quickly in about three to four years time. Until then, the working party recommended that our Department should consider obtaining the information from commercial sources. I have accordingly agreed that the Department should obtain prescribing data from two companies — IMS International Limited and Gallop Polls Limited.
Information CampaignThe working party recommended that an information campaign should be mounted in the medical press to help create a greater awareness of the problem of adverse reactions and the need to report them to the CSM. A pilot campaign will be mounted in the spring.
Communication between the CSM and the Medical ProfessionA free-phone and answer-phone service for calls from doctors about adverse reactions is to be installed by our Department to enable doctors to pass information to the CSM secretariat 24 hours a day.
Research into under-reporting adverse reactionsThe working party identified under-reporting of adverse reactions as a major problem. It recommended therefore that research should be undertaken into why doctors fail to recognise or report adverse reactions and what might be done to ensure that more doctors report adverse reactions. We will begin discussions with suitable researchers in order to set this work in hand as soon as possible.
Direct computer reporting by GPsThe CSM working party is expected to give further consideration shortly to methods of overcoming many of the problems associated with a paper-based adverse reactions reporting system. One alternative is direct reporting by doctors using view-data equipment to a central computer. Discussions have begun on a pilot project.
The working party has begun the second stage of its work, which is concerned primarily with examining possible new methods of collecting adverse reactions information. I expect its report by the end of this year.