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Union Health Minister inaugurates 38th Annual Meeting of Representatives of National Pharmacovigilance Centres

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Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission to become the first WHO Collaborating Centre for Safety of Medicines and Vaccines in the WHO South-East Asia Region

JP Nadda, Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare inaugurated the 38th Annual Meeting of Representatives of the National Pharmacovigilance Centres participating in the WHO Programme for International Drug Monitoring. At the inaugural event it was announced that the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission is in the process of becoming the first WHO Collaborating Centre for Safety of Medicines and Vaccines in the South-East Asia Region.

Hosted annually by one of the WHO Member States, the meeting acts as a platform for countries to discuss current issues and concerns in pharmacovigilance. This year, the meeting has been hosted by the Indian Pharmacopoeia Commission, the National Coordinating Centre – Pharmacovigilance Programme of India with active support from WHO. More than 150 international delegates from over 57 countries are attending the meeting. The opening day of the meeting witnessed participation of delegates from regulatory agencies, academic institutions, collaborating centres, member states and industry.

In his inaugural address, Nadda emphasised that the success of pharmacovigilance depends on the state-of-the-art reporting, cutting-edge use of information and communications technology to process and analyse information for immediate corrective measures, which needs to be supported by a highly calibrated audit process. The minister applauded the WHO Collaborating Centres across the globe, which serve as platforms for knowledge transfer and act as catalysts for developing the next level good pharmacovigilance practices and awareness of adverse drug reactions and their reporting.

Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region said, “The meeting is timely and expected to facilitate partnerships between WHO Member States, collaborating centres of WHO, Adverse Drug Reaction monitoring centres of the Pharmacovigilance Programme of India, industry and research institutions to showcase best practices of pharmacovigilance towards ensuring safety of medicines.”

Bhanu Pratap Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) highlighted that there are several challenges in medical sector and public health systems that have heightened the need for pharmacovigilance, such as medicines coming from countries where regulatory standards may not be very strong, increasingly dependence of people on online platforms for medical guidance and self-medication etc.

Other prominent dignitaries at the inaugural were Dr Jagdish Prasad, Director General of Health Services, MoHFW; KB Agarwal, Additional Secretary, MoHFW; KL Sharma, Joint Secretary, MoHFW; Dr GN Singh, Secretary-Cum-Scientific Director, IPC; Dr Lembit Rägo, Head of Regulation Medicines and other Health Technologies, Essential Medicines and Health Products (EMP), WHO HQ and his colleagues Dr Clive Ondari, Coordinator, Safety and Vigilance of Medicines, WHO HQ; Dr Shanthi Pal, Group Lead, Medicines Safety, Safety & Vigilance, WHO HQ, and Prakin Suchaxaya, Coordinator, Health Programmes, WHO Country Office for India.

Two events preceded the main meeting: a workshop on the WHO ATC/DDD (Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical classification/ Defined Daily Dose) methodology and Drug Utilization Research and ‘Let’s talk PV!’, the second workshop conducted by the WHO Collaborating Centre for International Drug Monitoring, the Uppsala Monitoring Centre, Sweden.

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