Adverse drug reactions: To report, or not to report?

One advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic was that it highlighted the crucial importance of pharmacovigilance and the actual reporting of adverse drug reactions (ADRs). There was a significant increase in the awareness of medicine safety due to the extensive media coverage on all the different communication platforms that brought medicine safety to the attention of the public. This heightened attention and awareness on medicine safety shone a spotlight on the role that medicine regulatory authorities, the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare workers and the public play in the global and local pharmacovigilance field. The World Health Organization (WHO) defined pharmacovigilance as the “science and activities relating to the detection, assessment, understanding and prevention of adverse effects or any other drug-related problem”. Whereas an adverse drug reaction (ADR) is a response to a medicine in humans that is “noxious and unintended and which occurs at doses normally used in man for prophylaxis, diagnosis, therapy of disease or for modification of physiological function”.

Coming clean: Saying ‘know’ to drugs – Part I

Another important aspect is that the same drug may have different effects on a person. For example, diamorphine or heroin, when given in a clinical setting, is used to treat heroin use disorders in Switzerland. It has also been used in the UK for several years. There are still about 300 people who access pharmaceutical quality diamorphine in injectable formulations and the vast majority live a good life. The former Swiss president, Madame Ruth Dreyfus, introduced heroin prescribing in Switzerland at the peak of the drug and HIV problem. She told me the problem now is that many people in old-age homes still require heroin. With COVID-19, they have actually stopped insisting that people use the heroin in front of a clinician; they can now take it home and they have had no problems with this approach. So the question is, how can you have the same drug giving such different effects?

Dog bites – barking up the right treatment tree

Dog bites and their consequences

Dog bites are reported to be the most frequently encountered animal bites managed in emergency centres in South Africa. Although anyone can be a victim of a violent dog attack, dog bites are a common occurrence in children due to their height being at the same level as that of dogs, and the likelihood of them provoking the dogs while playing. Injuries are likely to be sustained on the head, face and neck in children below the age of six, and to lower limbs, arms and hands in older children and adults. Numerous South African and international studies have shown that the incidence of dog bites is higher in children under the age of 10.

Menopause is not a disease – grasping the hormonal changes that induce menopause requires a prior understanding of the physiology of the menstrual cycle

Menopause is generally defined in medical dictionaries as the cessation of menstruation. In other words, the physiological processes that previously resulted in pregnancy or menstruation have undergone certain modifications leading to the termination of a function of the female reproductive system. I propose that we begin by investigating the exquisite hormonal dances performed primarily by the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands, and the ovaries, that regulate the menstrual cycle.

Alzheimer’s disease – helpful guidelines for a general practitioner

There is undoubtedly an increase in the number of people diagnosed with dementia worldwide and caring for persons living with Alzheimer’s disease and their loved ones is a multi-professional task that most often starts with a visit to the family general practitioner or the local clinic. Drawing from practical experience, to assist in this time-consuming, multifaceted medical process, a framework has been compiled to assist the general practitioner cover the bases required for effective management from intake.

Pharma Dynamics marks 20-year milestone with sonic art

This year, leading local pharmaceutical company, Pharma Dynamics, celebrates 20 years of increasing access to healthcare. To mark the important milestone, it is inviting staff, patients, pharmacists, healthcare practitioners and all those who helped to shape the company in the last two decades to collaboratively participate in the creation of a digital artwork that will take on the form of a heart. Erik Roos, CEO of Pharma Dynamics says choosing the illustration of a heart is not only a symbol of the company’s long-standing position as the market leader in cardiovascular medication, but also symbolises the heartbeat of the organisation. “The artwork is our story that defines and articulates the way in which each employee and the company as a whole, is improving the human condition in a meaningful and sustainable way. Furthermore, it is symbolic of the connection and causal effect between the company and its stakeholders – together making a difference in the world”.

Get a grip on flu: quadrivalent flu vaccine gives life-saving protection to healthcare professionals and patients

At a time when healthcare systems are under pressure due to COVID-19, influenza (flu) prevention has become more of a priority. Each year flu causes up to 650 000 deaths globally, the highest number of cases being in sub-Saharan Africa. Over 11 000 flu-related deaths occur in South Africa (SA) each year, with almost 50% of those in South Africa who catch flu needing hospitalisation. Flu viruses circulate worldwide at different times of the year; SA’s seasonal flu usually has the highest number of recorded cases between May and September. Flu spreads quickly and can affect anyone, regardless of their state of health or age. Healthcare workers are particularly vulnerable: a systematic review comparing the incidence of flu in healthy adults and healthcare workers found a significantly higher incidence in healthcare workers. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “Because healthcare workers are dedicated individuals, they often come to work when they are sick, increasing the risk of transmission.” The WHO therefore recommends that all healthcare workers are vaccinated against seasonal flu every autumn


Health Professions Council of South Africa


3 Clinical


Attempts allowed: 2

70% pass rate

Enquire Now

South African General Practitioner - 2022 Vol 3 No 2