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THE PHARMA REVIEW (MAY 2009)

Pharmaco-economics: A Community Empowerment Tool and a Pharmacovigilance Primer

Sakir Mohammed, Vashistha Bharat, Jain Harshita, Mathur Manish, Gilhotra Ritu and Gilhotra Neeraj

Abstract: Pharmacovigilance is the detection of drug related problems through recording of patients’ experiences. Effective communication of the pharmacovigilance objectives to consumers is the key component to assure recording of timely and true “signals”. This practice includes not only drugs, but any health service provided to consumer. Untoward treatment consequences (health and/or economic) remain the mainstay of any medical treatment. Consumer need to be well informed about the products and services so as to acknowledge their effects (beneficial or harmful) in the full capacity of an aware consumer. Consumer including patient(s) should not be hesitant to ask the health service(s) provider(s) any question(s), they may have about their medications. The open communication will decrease the likelihood of a potential undesired health and/or economic consequences and if any, will be identified and reported. Moreover, it will hopefully encourage patient’s adherence with resultant improved patient care and satisfaction leading to better therapeutic outcomes. With this background, a trial on community perusal and community empowerment was carried out in a selected set of population. The trial shown an increase in drug related queries and served to enhance consumer’s expectation towards health care provider. The enhanced awareness in consumer may serve to prime the end consumer to be vigilant enough for medicine use and increase the formal communication between health service provider and consumer, serving to generate expedited “signals”.
 
Introduction
Pharmacovigilance is a science that deals with the activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects or any other possible drug-related problems. Specific aims of pharmacovigilance promote patient care and safety by promotion of understanding, education, training and its effective communication to the public. The practice contributes to assessment of benefit, harm, effectiveness of drugs and promotes the safe, rational and cost-effective use of drugs. The practice of Pharmacovigilance has evolved well to include vigilance of sale of drugs, self medication practices and irrational drug donation practices. The issue of Pharmacovigilance is relevant for every one, who is involved in any way by medical interventions and include policy makers, drug regulatory authorities, health care providers, consumers, health economists, health epidemiologists, drug information centre personnel, consumer groups, schools of health sciences and concerned layperson. For the systematic operations of science, various National Pharmacovigilance Centres (NPC) are engaged in promoting the public awareness of drug safety. Their main scope of activity also include effective communication of information of rational medicine consumption to practitioners, patients and public. Active role players in the practice of pharmacovigilance are pharmaceutical industries, hospitals and academia, health professionals, patients, advocacy groups, lawyers and media.
 
Among the above role players, patients experience the actual benefit or harm of a medicine. Observations and reports of a health professional are an interpretation of a description originally provided by the patients. Patients, who suspect that they have been affected by an ADR are recommended to report to their doctor. But this process is not sufficient to ensure that the patient’s concerns are being recorded. Pharmacovigilance serves to create confidence and trust among patients. This is an anonymous observation that patient participation in the reporting of drug related problems will definitely increase the efficiency of the pharmacovigilance system. Moreover, there are various studies that indicate that systems for recording patient concerns might identify new drug related signals earlier than the professional reporting systems alone. 

 

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