Patient records are to be downloaded from surgeries across England and Wales from next month to evaluate the safety of new drugs being launched in primary care.
The move is set to revolutionise patient safety, and comes at a time when reporting rates under the current yellow card scheme are falling.
Under the plans, anonymised data will be downloaded and analysed by a software program that links with practice IT systems.
Dr John Parkinson, director of the General Practice Research Database group, which developed the software, told GP it would allow the safety of drugs to be monitored in the 'real world' and would improve patient safety.
'The tool ExEtrac, which stands for exposure-event tracking, uses software that is compatible with the current IT systems used in GP practices.
'It will download anonymous clinical records of patients when they have been prescribed a new drug.
'It is a very specific download of only the patients who are on new drugs, not the whole patient list of a practice.'
Once data is extracted, it cannot be traced back to individual practices or patients, stressed Dr Parkinson.
'The system will allow pharmaceutical companies and drug regulators to assess the safety of their drugs and see how the drugs are being used,' he said.
Dr Parkinson, said he was 'over the moon' at GPs' response to the tool.
'We sent out a letter, last week, to all GPs in England and Wales asking whether they would like their practice to be connected to the system.
'We have so far received responses from 1,000 GPs, with 83 per cent saying they would let us have access to their data.'
The system has also received the backing of the RCGP and the BMA, he added.
Dr Bill Beeby, GPC prescribing lead, welcomed the tool as a good way to improve the monitoring of new drugs.
'I would be happy to sign up to the tool. The whole idea of prescription event monitoring is very sound.'
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