How do I report side effects from a medicine?

If you think your medicine has caused an unwanted side effect, you can report it through the Yellow Card Scheme in one of the ways below.

You can:

  • complete an online Yellow Card form
  • pick up a Yellow Card form from your GP surgery or your local pharmacy – once completed, send it to the freepost address on the form
  • call the Yellow Card freephone hotline – 0808 100 3352, Monday to Friday, 10am to 2pm
  • use the new Yellow Card app to report any suspected side effects – you can also use the app to view any previous reports you've submitted

If you're worried about side effects from your medicine, in the first instance check the patient information leaflet supplied with the medicine. Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you want advice. You can also call NHS 111 if it's available in your area.

Why should I report a side effect?

Sometimes medicines cause unwanted side effects. Reporting them can help ensure medicines are made safer in the future.

Any medicine can cause side effects, but sometimes rare adverse reactions aren't known until many people have used a medicine for a long time.

If you think your medicine is causing symptoms that aren't listed as a side effect in the patient information leaflet, it's best to report it, even if you're not sure.

You can also report a side effect for someone else – for example, if you think your child or another person you're responsible for is getting side effects from their medicine.

The Yellow Card Scheme

You can report suspected side effects from any type of medicine through the Yellow Card Scheme. Healthcare professionals, such as doctors, pharmacists and nurses, can also complete Yellow Card reports.

The Yellow Card Scheme is run by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the government body responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and meet approved safety standards.

The MHRA collects reports on all types of medicines, including prescription medicines, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines (those purchased without a prescription), alternative therapies, such as herbal or homeopathic remedies, and medicines thought to be fake.

Making a Yellow Card report

If you want to report a side effect but don't want to give your name, you can ask someone else to complete the form for you, giving their contact details.

Yellow Card Reports are treated in strict confidence, and information revealing a patient's identity is never released without their consent.

When you complete a Yellow Card form, you should give as much information as you can about:

  • the suspected side effect
  • the person who had the suspected side effect (even if you prefer not to give a name)
  • the medicine that might have caused the side effect
  • any other medicines being taken at the same time

After you've sent your report, you'll receive a confirmation. Someone at the MHRA will contact you if they need more information.

The MHRA, the manufacturer, or a medical specialist may investigate the problem if it's serious. Even if it isn't investigated, it will be recorded to help prevent similar incidents in the future.

Reporting problems with medical devices

As well as reporting suspected side effects of medicines, you can also report problems or incidents with medical devices, such as faulty brakes on a wheelchair, a faulty ear thermometer that gives a low reading, or a faulty batch of blood glucose test strips that give the wrong meter readings. You can also report defective and fake healthcare products.

Read more about the Yellow Card Scheme.

Further information

Page last reviewed: 30/10/2015

Next review due: 31/08/2018