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HAVE you ever suffered a side effect to a medicine? A side effect is a reaction to a drug that is not expected or wanted. All medicines can cause side effects, also known as adverse drug reactions, which can range in severity from mild to serious and even life-threatening.

Occasionally, side effects can appear after a person has stopped taking the medicine, while some side effects might not be discovered until many people have been taking the medicine for a long time.

Before prescribing any medicine to you, a doctor will consider the risks and benefits of that treatment.

The doctor or pharmacist may warn you of potential side effects to be aware of and what to do if they occur. But some side effects are not predictable and it is important that, if you are unsure that you are experiencing a side effect, you discuss this with your doctor or pharmacist.

They will be able to advise you on the best course of action to take.

Inside every pack of medication is a patient information leaflet that contains a list of potential side effects. It is important you read this as it will tell you what can happen and advises you what to do if a side effect occurs.

If you haven't experienced a side effect but you are concerned about the potential side effects of a medicine, it is important that you do not stop taking your medicines but you discuss your concerns with your pharmacist or doctor.

Side effects are not pleasant to experience but did you know that you can help to build up vital information by reporting your side effect to the Yellow Card Scheme? The Yellow Card Scheme is run by the MHRA ( Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) and the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), and is used to collect information from both health professionals and the general public on suspected side effects to medicines and vaccines. Its continued success depends on the willingness of people to report suspected side effects.

It is important for people to report as these are used to identify side effects and other problems which might not have been known about before. If a new side effect is found, the MHRA will review the way that the medicine can be used, and the warnings that are given to people taking it to minimise risk and maximise benefit to the patient.

| Paul Gimson is a pharmacist and Director for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Wales
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 17, 2013
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