New figures show that the number of patients dying as a result of having a reaction to the drugs they are being treated with has more than doubled over the past 10 years.
The data was released by the Department of Health in a parliamentary answer.
They show that in 2007, 1,031 patients died as a result of an adverse drugs reaction (ADR) compared with 447 in 1997, a 131% increase.
Over the same period, the number of ADR cases requiring prolonged hospitalisation increased from 2,484 to 4,545 – an 87% increase – while the total number of reported ADRs was up 30% from 16,627 to 21,600.
Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley described the jump as “worrying” and called for an investigation to be launched.
He said: “There may be some improvements in reporting but these figures show a worrying trend towards more serious drug reaction leading to hospitalisation and a sharp increase in the number of deaths.
“This warrants further investigation but clearly indicates that alongside the benefits of new drug treatments, we must have an improved system of patient safety.
“Ministers must see patient safety as their top priority. Labour’s obsession with financial and waiting time targets still gets in the way of the right set of priorities for patients.”
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