The actual rate of reporting is so alarmingly low that it is around 10 times below the optimum level set by the World Health Organization.
A new study that reviewed the reporting procedures among doctors in north Portugal found that just 26 adverse reactions were being reported per 1 million population, whereas the WHO says the reasonable level for a properly-regulated system should be closer to 300 reports per million.
When doctors were 'educated' about drugs and reactions for the purpose of the study, the rate of reporting went up to 160 reports per million for a brief period, although the researchers expected the benefits of the training to fall off within nine months.
The problem of under-reporting isn't restricted to Portugal. The United States, Canada, Italy, Sweden and the UK also have very low reporting rates, say the researchers.
Of course, if the WHO targets were reached, the whole drug industry would grind to a halt. And that would never do.
(Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, 2006; 296: 1086-93).
E-news broadcast 14 September 2006 No.292 [Subscribe]