Penicillin: Allergies

Department of Health written question – answered on 14th September 2015.

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Photo of Sir David Amess Sir David Amess Conservative, Southend West

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many incidences of allergic reaction to penicillin were reported in each year since 2010.

Photo of George Freeman George Freeman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

Reports of suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) are collected by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Commission for Human Medicines through the spontaneous reporting scheme, the Yellow Card Scheme. The scheme collects suspected ADR reports from the whole of the United Kingdom in relation to all medicines and vaccines. Reporting to the Yellow Card Scheme is voluntary for healthcare professionals and members of the public, there is however also a legal obligation for pharmaceutical companies to report all serious ADRs for their products that they are aware of.

Table 1 shows the number of UK suspected spontaneous ADR reports received by the MHRA of ‘Allergic conditions’ associated with penicillins (Benethamine Penicillin, Benzylpenicillin, Penicillin, Phenoxymethylpenicillin) between 1 January 2010 and 4 September 2015.

Table 1. The number of UK suspected spontaneous ADR reports received by the MHRA of ‘Allergic conditions’ associated with penicillins (Benethamine Penicillin, Benzylpenicillin, Penicillin, Phenoxymethylpenicillin) between 1 January 2010 and 4 September 2015.

Year received by agency

Number of reports

2010

4

2011

28

2012

56

2013

44

2014

61

2015

68*

Total

261

*2015 Total up to 4 September 2015

Source: MHRA Sentinel database for adverse reactions.

It is important to note that Yellow Card reports are not proof of a side effect occurring but only a suspicion by the reporter that the medicine may have caused the side effect. Yellow Card reports may therefore relate to true side effects of the medicine, or they may be due to coincidental illnesses that would have occurred in the absence of medicine.

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