Health Canada has launched an online database, which is says will, for the first time, allow Canadians immediate, direct access to the latest reported side effects to health products as recorded in Health Canada’s Canadian adverse drug reaction information system.

Health Canada says it receives reports of suspected adverse reactions from consumers, healthcare professionals and product manufacturers and reports the information in the CARDRI, which is the source for the new database. Before the launch of the new database, such reports were only available by request, with a minimum waiting time of two weeks. However, Canadians will now be able to generate their own reports immediately.

Heralding the move as “a major step forward”, Health Minister, Ujjal Dosanjh, said that monitoring drug side effects would help ensure that the benefits of a product continue to outweigh the risks as well as providing update product labelling and information. “Facilitating access to that information is essential to Canadians’ understanding of those risks and to maintaining their confidence in our drug approval and monitoring system,” Minister Dosajnh said in a statement.

The database can be searched by the name of the product or active ingredient, the date a report was received, patient age and gender, and the outcome of the adverse reaction. The online database does not include confidential information such as patient identity.