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Sunday, 18 March, 2001, 00:18 GMT
Mentally ill 'need more drug data'
Mentally ill patient
Psychiatric patients want more information on their drugs
Medicines used to treat the mentally ill can have devastating side effects, but many may go unreported.

Mental health charity Mind is calling for psychiatric patients to report data straight to them so they can feed more accurate information back to doctors and other experts.

The charity has re-launched its Yellow Card reporting system to give patients a chance to air their concerns.

The Yellow Card is a leaflet asking people about their experiences of side effects from psychiatric drugs, what information they received and whether they were given a choice of drugs.

Medicines used to treat mental health problems can have appalling side effects that can ruin lives

Alison Cobb

The Mind scheme aims to complement the system run by the Committee for Safety on Medicines (CSM) by providing a more accurate patient-led picture of the drugs.

Mind said patients were not given enough information and choice about the sort of drugs they were taking or how they reacted with combination drugs prescribed.

When Mind gets all the responses back it will relay the data back to the CSM, doctors and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (Nice).

Appalling side effects

Alison Cobb, of Mind, said "Medicines used to treat mental health problems can have appalling side effects that can ruin lives.

"Taking part in this survey will help make sure that key decision makers get to hear what it is really like, particularly for people from ethnic communities whose experiences are currently under-reported."

The Yellow Card scheme was first launched in 1998, but will now be used to target more diverse communities and to explore why people from black and ethnic communities receive higher doses of psychiatric drugs than others and to gauge levels of adverse effects.

At the moment adverse effects cannot be reported by patients directly to the CSM, but can only be done through a doctor or pharmacist.

Mind said the last Yellow Card scheme had revealed that 80% of psychiatric patients said they were not given enough information when their drugs were prescribed; 75% said they had not been warned about possible side effects and 44% said they were taking a combination of psychiatric drugs.

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