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Question for Department of Health

UIN 209710, tabled on 26 September 2014

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, what information his Department holds on how many fatalities have been reported in other countries arising from the use of (a) nicotine replacement therapies, (b) varenicline and (c) e-cigarettes.

Answered on

15 October 2014

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 ADR reports from across the United Kingdom and includes all medicines, including those from prescriptions, those bought over-the-counter in pharmacies or general retail sales outlets. Reports are also received for herbal medicines and other unlicensed medicines.

The table below shows the total number of UK spontaneous ‘suspected’ ADR reports in association with school children (ages 5-16), received by the MHRA up to 30 September 2014 broken down for E-Cigarettes, Nicotine Replacement Therapies (excluding E-Cigarettes) and Varenicline.

Total Number of Reports



Nicotine Replacement therapy




There is unknown and variable level of under-reporting to the Yellow Card Scheme meaning that data collected cannot be used to calculate incidence. We are unable to calculate this incidence because neither the total number of reactions occurring in the population, nor the number of patients using the drug is known.

The MHRA does not hold data on the number of fatalities associated with nicotine replacement therapies varenicline or e-cigarettes in other countries.

The requirements for medicines labelling and patient information are set out in European and national legislation. Provisions already exist for a series of warning statements to appear on the packs of nicotine replacement therapy medicines. All medicines are also accompanied by a patient information leaflet which includes detailed information on the safe and effective use of the product and warnings about known adverse effects.

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