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Keeping tabs on drug reactions. (Body Wise).

PharmaWatch and Women and Health Protection, two of Canada's top advocacy groups to keep pharmaceutical companies in check, are pressuring Health Canada to establish a more effective system for reporting and monitoring adverse drug reactions.

In 2002, Health Canada established a Marketed Health Products Directorate to collect information on the efficacy and safety of drugs, vaccines, medical devices and natural health products. However, according to Collen Fuller of Women and Health Protection, the directorate does not have adequate resources to properly monitor drug safety. Nor has the directorate promoted its toll-free consumer line to the public and health practitioners. As a result, most Canadians do not know where to report adverse drug reactions.

Studies have shown that women tend to experience more adverse drug reactions than men. This may be because women continue to be underrepresented in drug trials, even though it is clear that data collected from male-only studies cannot be applied to women. This is important because many drugs are metabolized at different rates in men than they are in women. Women also use drugs in different combinations than men. Importantly, some common adverse effects from drug use (such as abnormal heart rhythm) affect women more frequently than men. Finally, because women are often smaller than men, the dose requirement may be substantially different between them. To report an adverse drug reaction, call the Marketed Health Products Directorate: (toll free)


Bodywise is researched, written and provided by Kathleen O'Grady, director of communications at the Canadian Women's Health Network (GWHN), a non-profit source of health information that brings together more than 1,400 women's health organizations. Check it out at

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Author:O'Grady, Kathleen
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jun 22, 2003
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