Nearly one-third of parents in London fail to report drug side-effects experienced by their children to GPs or pharmacists, according to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

London parents are the least likely in the UK to make such reports of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) in their children, with just 69% saying they would report the problem to a doctor and 39% stating that they would ask their pharmacist, compared to a high of 88% and 59% by patients in Wales, new research conducted for the MHRA has found.

However, the study also reveals that London parents are more aware than any others in the UK of the ability to report any side effects directly to the Agency’s Yellow Card Scheme, with 14% recognising the Scheme compared to a national average of 9%.

Research suggests that only 10%-15% of serious side effects are reported in the entire population, although children receive fewer medicines as they experience lower rates of disease than adults, according to the MHRA. The Agency says it is especially keen to receive more reports about suspect side effects in children, who can react differently to medicines compared to adults as their bodies may handle the drug differently.

“It is vital that parents and carers as well as healthcare professionals use the Yellow Card Scheme to report any suspected side effects. Identifying side effects in children can be more difficult and it may only be a parent or carer who is able to identify symptoms in a child that they cannot explain themselves,” says June Raine, director of the MHRA’s vigilance and risk management of medicines division.

“Parents and carers have an important contribution to make identifying potential safety problems and helping the MHRA protect public health,” she adds.

Dr Hilary Cass, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, points out that not all medication is perfectly suited to every child, even if they have the same medical condition or complaint.

“So for children to get quality and effective medication that’s right for them, it’s important that healthcare professionals work with families to report all side effects, no matter how big or small,” says Dr Cass.

The research was conducted as part of a campaign to increase reporting from parents and carers of suspected side-effects associated with medicines taken by children.