Document Type: Original Article
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland
University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
Queen Mary University of London, Global Public Health Unit, London, UK
The Foundation for Research in Community Health, Pune, India
School of Pharmacy, University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland
Pharmacovigilance (PV) data are crucial for ensuring safety and effectiveness of medicines after drugs have been granted marketing approval. This paper describes the PV systems of India, Uganda and South Africa based on literature and Key Informant (KI) interviews and compares them with the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) minimum PV requirements for a Functional National PV System.
A documentary analysis of academic literature and policy reports was undertaken to assess the medicines regulatory systems and policies in the three countries. A gap analysis from the document review indicated a need for further research in PV. KI interviews covered topics on PV: structure and practices of the system; current regulatory policy; capacity limitations, staffing, funding and training; availability and reporting of data; and awareness and usage of the systems. Twenty interviews were conducted in India, 8 in Uganda and 11 in South Africa with government officials from the ministries of health, national regulatory authorities, pharmaceutical producers, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), members of professional associations and academia. The findings from the literature and KI interviews were compared with WHO’s minimum requirements.
All three countries were confronted with similar barriers: lack of sufficient funding, limited number of trained staff, inadequate training programs, unclear roles and poor coordination of activities. Although KI interviews represented viewpoints of the respondents, the findings confirmed the documentary analysis of the literature. Although South Africa has a legal requirement for PV, we found that the three countries uniformly lacked adequate capacity to monitor medicines and evaluate risks according to the minimum standards of the WHO.
A strong PV system is an important part of the overall medicine regulatory system and reflects on the stringency and competence of the regulatory bodies in regulating the market ensuring the safety and effectiveness of medications. National PV systems in the study countries needed strengthening. Greater attention to funding is needed to coordinate and sustain PV activities. Our study highlights a need for developing more systematic approaches to regularly monitoring and evaluating PV policy and practices.