In November 2001 the 24th Annual Meeting of the National Centres participating in the WHO Programme for International Drug Monitoring met in Dunedin, New Zealand. Once again this was a most successful event with an agenda including such topics as BSE, How regulation affects medical practice, Benefit risk assessment and Pharmacovigilance and public health. In this issue you will find some excerpts from the report which is now available on request from WHO. These include a few of the Drugs of current interest which were discussed during the meeting and which we consider need to be publicised more widely. The other is the discussion article on the controversial analgesic metamizole sodium. We are publishing a personal opinion as to why it is still on the market in Brazil and the article provides a compelling argument for continuing postmarketing studies on older generic drugs.
Herbal medicines continue to be in the forefront for monitoring safety. WHO is in the process of developing Guidelines for Safety Monitoring of Herbal Medicines and in the future training courses will be offered to all interested parties.
WHO took part as an observer in the ICH meeting in Brussels in February where the topic of pharmacovigilance was once again on the agenda. New ICH guidelines on Periodic Safety Update Reports (PSURs) and case management and definitions will be developed. These guidelines should be of value to all countries.