Developing countries need to step up drug safety monitoring and the World Health Organization should lead efforts to find a new way of funding such activities, say Munir Pirmohamed and colleagues in this British Medical Journal editorial.
Drug companies are under increasing pressure to remove barriers that prevent poor countries from getting access to effective medicines, but the campaigns are not accompanied by equivalent pharmacovigilance systems, they write.
Less than 27 per cent of developing countries have schemes for monitoring and sharing information about drug safety that are registered with a global WHO programme.
But safety profiles produced in developed countries cannot necessarily be transferred to developing countries, where adverse reactions may differ because of environmental and genetic influences.
Pirmohamed and colleagues call for collaboration between scientists, drug companies and governments carrying out studies to deposit their information in a single database.
Similar partnerships, they say, should be established by public health and drug access campaigns and existing regional surveillance systems to produce large sets of demographically relevant data.
The ultimate aim, they say, is for every country to establish a drug safety system that feeds into a global database.