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Web trawl
  1. Robyn Webber, Web Editor

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    Safety of the medicines and equipment used in the treatment of patients is of paramount importance. This month’s web trawl discusses UK based web sites dedicated to providing up to date information relating to such safety issues. This is the web site of the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA); the agency of the Department of Health that protects the public by ensuring that all medicines and medical devices used in the UK are of an appropriate standard of safety and effectiveness. The MHRA is an amalgamation of two previously existing agencies, the Medical Devices Agency (MDA) and the Medicines Control Agency (MCA). From a common home page, the user is able to access current news items about medicines and devices, as well as the home pages of the two previously separate organisations. Clicking on the link for the “Medicines” brings the user to this section’s home page ( This is clearly laid out, is easy to use, and provides links to further pages detailing the work of the agency, its publications, and information resources. There is also a link to the Committee on Safety of Medicines, which is discussed further below. If instead, the user selects the link for the “Devices” section, they will be brought to the home page of the former Medical Devices Agency ( The colour scheme and layout of this section is very different to that of the “Medicines” section, suggesting that the two web sites may have been simply linked together when the agencies amalgamated. The layout of this page, is, perhaps, a little “busy”, but nevertheless provides access to a wealth of news and information about the safety of medical devices. The layout does mean that it is somewhat difficult to navigate between pages—it can be difficult to find the way back to the home page—but nevertheless all the necessary links are there. Both of these web sites are updated regularly, and the “news” section seems to be updated on almost a daily basis. The web sites can be accessed without restriction by healthcare professionals and the public alike, although much of the information available is probably only of interest to those working within healthcare services in the UK. This is the web site of the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM). Although it is accessed via the MHRA web site, it is in fact a separate entity, and once again of entirely different design to the MHRA’s two component sites. From the home page, the user is directed to pages detailing the work and publications of the CSM, and it also provides a link to the UK’s “yellow card scheme” for reporting adverse drug reactions. These can now be completed electronically. Detailed information on the scheme is provided that is aimed both at health professionals and members of the public, both being able to complete a yellow card if appropriate. Again access to the site is unrestricted, and the content will be of interest to anyone with a specific interest in drug related adverse events.