Medicines help us live longer and healthier. They can help cure, treat an illness or disease and can also prevent some conditions from developing
During the course of our lives, it is likely that we will all need to take medicines. These might include vaccines to prevent illness or prescription medicines to treat serious infections.
Some of us may also take over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to treat minor symptoms like headaches as well as dietary supplements such as vitamins.
Most of us may not experience any problems when using medicines. However, all medicines have some risks and a number of people may develop unwanted effects (also known as adverse reactions).
What is an adverse drug reaction?
An adverse reaction (ADR) is defined as a ‘response to a medicinal product which is unwanted and unintended’. This definition includes any harm associated with the use of a medicine including use following a normal dose, overdose, misuse or error.
 In many cases, side effects which are generally expected when taking medicines are mild and you can continue to take the medicine. However, some people may experience adverse drug reactions and may need a change in their medicines or, in rare cases, some additional medical treatment.
It is important to look at the risks associated with a medicine in the context of the overall benefit of the medicine to your health and the condition being treated. Even where a reaction to a particular medicine is severe, it may still be better to continue the treatment and to manage
the unwanted side effects/ adverse drug reactions with consultation from your doctor or pharmacist.

Where can I get information on adverse drug reactions?

The package leaflet that comes with a medicine tells you about the product. A Section of the leaflet talks about the possible adverse drug reactions. Some of the information at times may be written on the package of the medicines.
It is really important to read this information. You are also advised to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the possible adverse drug reactions of medicines they are recommending for you.

What should I do if I think I have had a reaction?

If you are worried that you may have had a reaction to a medicine, contact your healthcare professional. They will tell you if you need any medical care. They will also consider if you need to change your treatment or if you need a different treatment. They will report the suspected adverse drug reaction to the National Pharmacovigilance Centre at Pharmacy and Poisons Board .You can also report to us directly via email (Indicate email) or through a telephone (Indicate No.).
How can I report an adverse reaction?
You can report a drug reaction by:
•        contacting your healthcare professional who can notify the Pharmacy and Poisons Board;
•        calling us on 0795 743 049 or sending an email to
·      Visiting us to report in person at our offices along Lenana road or any of our regional offices countrywide.

Who can report an adverse drug reaction?

•    Doctors, pharmacists, dentists, nurses and other healthcare professionals.
•    Patients and other members of the public if the side effect happened to:
•   themselves personally;
•   their child;
•   some other person they are responsible for, such as a spouse, a young adult or an elderly person; or
•   Someone who has asked that they make a report on their behalf.

Why is it important for me to report suspected adverse drug reactions?

Patients are in an ideal position to identify the impact of medicines they have taken, particularly on their quality of life. The patients’ role in reporting adverse drug reactions is a key element in building an improved system of pharmacovigilance


We encourage you to report suspected adverse drug reactions so that we have more information available about the use of medicines. This helps us to monitor their safety.
When we get a report of a suspected adverse reaction, we review all the details including the possible impact of the medicine. If we think that the medicine has played a role, we examine to see if this may be a new safety concern or if similar cases have been reported. We also have access to global safety information which helps us to identify emerging safety issues.
Where a serious safety issue emerges with a medicine, we work to change the way the medicine is used. If there is a risk to public health, we may suspend the use of the medicine.

What can I do to minimize the risk of adverse drug reactions?

It is important that you always follow the advice given to you by your health professional on the recommended storage, dose and length of time you should take a medicine. Make sure you tell your healthcare professional about any other medicines you are taking. Some medicines can react with other medicines and this could be a health risk.

What does the Pharmacy and Poisons Board do?

As the regulatory authority, we monitor the safety, quality and efficacy of medicines available in Kenya.  


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