The system aims to reach up to 1.5 million people who are "shielding" - keeping themselves at home for 12 weeks under government advice to protect those with serious health conditions (Photo: iStock).

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has launched a week-long social media campaign to raise awareness about the importance of reporting suspected side effects through the Yellow Card Scheme.

The campaign will focus on polypharmacy, which could increase the likelihood of a patient having side effects, medication errors, as well as the risk of interactions between medicines and with foods or herbal products.

The MHRA is encouraging healthcare professionals to review their patients’ medication intake, especially when prescribing, dispensing and administrating multiple medicines and asked to report suspected side effects to the Yellow Card Scheme.

Mick Foy, MHRA’s Head of Pharmacovigilance Strategy, said: “Protecting patients is our topmost priority. Patients, their carers, and healthcare professionals are asked to report suspected side effects on a Yellow Card to the MHRA online or via the app. Reporting helps to improve the safety of medicines for all patients and can result in better tailored prescribing or administrative advice and information about monitoring, which can help improve adherence to treatment, and ultimately improves patient safety.”

Studies show that one-third of people over 75 years old take at least six medicines and over a million people take eight or more medicines daily. Polypharmacy is common in older people but anyone who routinely uses multiple medicines at the same time can be affected.

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