Campaign raises awareness of side effects from over the counter medicines

Uppsala Monitoring Centre has teamed up with the medicine regulatory authorities and National Pharmacovigilance centres of 20 countries to launch a social media campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of over-the-counter medicines.

Campaign raises awareness of side effects from over the counter medicines

From 20-24 November, all 20 countries will be running a social media campaign to promote recognition and reporting of suspected side effects from over-the-counter medicines (OTC), as part of an EU-wide awareness week.

While medicines are safe and effective, side effects can happen, even with over-the-counter medicines. It is important the risks associated with all medicines are understood and communicated to health professionals and patients.

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Potential side effects may range from a headache or sore stomach, to flu-like symptoms or just ‘feeling a bit off’ and reporting these can help regulators monitor medicines on the market and take action as appropriate.

Regulators rely on the reporting of suspected side effects to make sure medicines on the market are acceptably safe. Unfortunately, all reporting systems suffer from under reporting – this is why our campaign is important to both raise awareness and help strengthen the system.

All 20 countries have worked with the Uppsala Monitoring Centre and combined their diverse and unique experiences of medicines safety and online communications in a light-hearted and amusing series of animations aimed at promoting the safer use of non-prescription medicines.

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One in five people in the UK may have misused over the counter medicines during their lifetime, according to research published in the Journal of Public Health. Misuse covers everything from taking a higher dose or using it more frequently than recommended on the product information leaflet, to using a medicine for longer than advised, or for a different purpose than it was intended for. One of the most common misuses of OTC medicines, is as a sleeping or relaxation aid.

The short animations feature cute cartoon characters whose unfortunate misuse of non-prescription medicines leads to comical calamities. It is hoped that the memorable character designs and simple visual gags will reinforce a very serious message for patients across Europe.

Tom R


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