Safer use of medicines: the basics

What can be done to make the use of medicines safer and more effective? What is being achieved around the world by UMC and others? You’ll find some of the answers on these pages.

Medicines heal, but can also harm

Safer use of modern and traditional medicines is an ambitious goal for all of us. It depends on patients and health professionals, health ministries, regulators, and manufacturers working actively together. The priority is to identify when patients suffer any kind of harm from their therapy and to reduce the risk of this happening in the future. Uppsala Monitoring Centre (UMC) is a major part of this global effort.

Here you’ll find a general introduction to pharmacovigilance – the science concerned with making the use of medicines safer and more effective – and UMC’s essential work in this important field. You’ll also find out how patients and citizens can contribute. Other parts of the website are primarily for pharmacovigilance specialists, regulators and scientists, but they may interest you too.

Are you looking for information on the WHO Programme for International Drug Monitoring?

Formal definition of pharmacovigilance…

"…the science and activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects or any other possible drug-related problems…"

The Importance of Pharmacovigilance, WHO, 2002, p.7, 

"…any other possible drug-related problems" refers to issues with accuracy of prescribing and dispensing, dose, quality, interactions, adherence and many other aspects. Modern-day pharmacovigilance is also concerned with the impact of medicines on patients’ quality of life – not only with the purely physical effects.


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