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Safety Monitoring of Medicinal Products: Guidelines for Setting Up and Running a Pharmacovigilance Centre
(2000; 28 pages) [French]
Table of Contents
View the documentINTRODUCTION
View the document1. WHY PHARMACOVIGILANCE?
View the document2. DEFINITION AND AIMS
Open this folder and view contents3. HOW TO START A PHARMACOVIGILANCE CENTRE
Open this folder and view contents4. REPORTING OF ADVERSE DRUG REACTIONS
Open this folder and view contents5. SPECIAL ISSUES IN REPORTING
Open this folder and view contents7. ASSESSMENT OF CASE REPORTS
Open this folder and view contents8. USE OF THE DATA
Open this folder and view contents9. RELATIONS WITH OTHER PARTIES
View the document11. FUNDING
View the documentREFERENCES
View the documentGLOSSARY
View the documentWHO CONTACTS


This booklet aims to provide practical guidelines and information for the setting up of new Pharmacovigilance Centres.

The history of international pharmacovigilance goes back as much as thirty years, when the twentieth World Health Assembly adopted a resolution to start a project on the feasibility of an international system of monitoring adverse reactions to drugs. This resolution was the basis of WHO’s Programme on International Drug Monitoring.

At this moment more than fifty countries participate in this Programme. The world of today no longer is as it was at the time the Programme was established. New developments challenge our attention, require adequate reaction, and raise new questions in adverse drug reaction monitoring.

A few examples may illustrate this: The current financial climate forces national authorities to find ways to contain the cost of pharmaceutical care. In some countries a strong tendency to self-medication can be seen, and many pharmaceuticals that used to be prescription only are now available over the counter. The question arises: Does this have consequences for the safety of the patients?

Traditional medication is increasing in the Western world, but the use of herbal medicines risks escaping control. Nonetheless several herbal medicines are quite active, and may be associated with adverse effects. Continuing vigilance is needed.

A phenomenon that has received the attention it deserves in only the last few years, is the prevalence of counterfeit drugs on the market. Instances of calamities, claiming the lives of numerous children due to the use of a toxic solvent have been documented. Drug monitoring programmes may well be instrumental in detecting such products.

The way drugs are being monitored has changed, both internationally as well as on the national level. The WHO Programme was established with ten countries, all of them highly developed. Gradually more countries showed interest and eventually joined the Programme, once they felt that their national systems were sufficiently developed.

Criteria for this development are not only the functioning of the centre in question itself, but also the presence of an effective drug regulatory body in the country that has the will and the potential to react to signals emanating from the centre and to take proper regulatory measures. WHO considers this point as vital: a pharmacovigilance system must be backed up by the regulatory body.

In particular the last five years have seen an increasing number of countries expressing the wish to participate in the Programme, and several countries are in contact with WHO and the WHO Collaborating Centre, the Uppsala Monitoring Centre in Sweden, to receive support with the development of their national programmes. Practically all industrialised countries already participate; new countries now are all coming from the developing world. In several cases new countries have requested WHO’s collaboration and assistance in setting up a monitoring system.

At national level also many changes have been taking place. In the original model a pharmacovigilance system is strongly centralised, and consists of one national centre collecting reports from health professionals in the country. Many countries, however, now prefer a more decentralised system, with a national centre functioning as a focal point for some regional or local centres. Several countries are in the process of starting their systems (conforming to this model), and countries with a long-standing experience in drug monitoring are changing their programmes into a decentralised organisation. Both schemes are similar in many aspects.

Monitoring Centres always start on a very small scale, often with only one enthusiastic (part-time) professional. These pioneers in their field need help and guidance. There is a need to provide such emerging centres with some information:

• the materials and resources required
• how to operate
• what kind of support is needed
• where to find adequate literature sources
• what kind of assistance can be expected
• what is the relationship to be sought with drug information centres and poison information systems, and so on.

WHO has reacted to this perceived need by holding a consultative meeting that was asked to share experience and competence through discussion of a draft guideline, prepared by Dr Ronald Meyboom. On the basis of this discussion this document has been produced, that is intended to be used by new monitoring centres, in order to prevent them from losing time and money as a consequence of the lack of experience. It discusses practical aspects of how to run a pharmacovigilance centre at the technical level, with down-to-earth recommendations. We hope that this guideline booklet helps people on the way to a well-organised and well-run pharmacovigilance centre.

This guideline booklet is based on the proceedings of a Consultation on Setting up and Running of a Pharmacovigilance Centre, World Health Organization, Geneva, 26-27 June 1996.


Dr T. Kurokawa, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Tokyo, Japan (Chairman)

Dr Ana Maria Corrêa-Nunes, Instituto Nacional da Farmácia e do Medicamento, Lisbon, Portugal

Dr Andrzej Czarnecki, Institute for Drug Research and Control, Centre for Monitoring of Adverse Effects of Drugs, Warsaw, Poland

Professor Iwan Darmansjah, University of Indonesia, Medical Faculty, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Jakarta, Indonesia

Mr Henry Irunde, Tanzania Drug and Toxicology Information Service, Muhimbili Medical Centre, P.O. Box 65088, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Dr Guillermo Lombardo, National Administration of Food, Drugs and Medical Technology, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Dr Rachida Soulaymani-Bencheikh, Institut National d’Hygiène, Centre Anti-Poison et de Pharmacovigilance, Rabat, Morocco

Dr Bengt-Erik Wiholm, Division of Epidemiology, Information and Inspection, Medical Products Agency, Uppsala, Sweden.


Dr Ronald H.B. Meyboom, the Uppsala Monitoring Centre, Uppsala, Sweden (Consultant)

Mr Sten Olsson, the Uppsala Monitoring Centre, Uppsala, Sweden (Rapporteur)

Dr Martijn ten Ham, Division of Drug Management and Policies, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

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