Benefits vs side effects illustration

What is drug safety science?

Drug safety science is about developing in-depth knowledge of the different possible side effects from taking medicines and establishing how and why they affect people differently.

Research from different areas of science combines to build the crucial understanding of why a drug causes a side-effect or Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) in a particular patient.

Everybody takes medicines but there is a need for greater awareness of the potential side effects so that more people know what they can do about them, if and when side effects may occur for an individual. The Medical Research Council (MRC) Centre for Drug Safety Science is based at the University of Liverpool, and work here focuses on developing knowledge to help prevent unwanted side-effects.

The animation below talks more about drug safety and has been created in partnership with Sense about Science. You can hear more about side effects, and develop a greater knowledge of why they occur, what can cause them and how to manage them.

Many factors influence the chances of unwanted side effects, with different people responding to medicines in different ways. These factors include the prescribed dose, the condition being treated, the age and sex of the patient, and other treatments which the patient may be taking, including herbal/complementary medicines.

Every patient can help make drugs even safer

Although medicines are very thoroughly trialled on thousands of people and meet rigorous standards before they are licensed, when they are used more generally by a wider population, unanticipated side effects may come to light.

The Yellow Card Scheme is a platform set up to help collect and evaluate reports of Adverse Drug Reactions; you can report Adverse Drug Reactions you have experienced, or you can report on behalf of someone else, on the Yellow Card Scheme website. These are then submitted to the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for review.

Download the animation and companion guide