Intoxications are underreported


Author: Emilio Sant'Anna

Source: O Estado de S. Paulo, 18/09/2007

At the top of the list of agents that cause poisoning and poisoning are venomous animals - scorpions, snakes and spiders -, with 23.647 cases (read text beside). But drug-related accidents are worrying. In 2005, 21.926 occurrences were reported, 5.842 only with children under 5 years old. The data are from the National System of Toxic-Pharmacological Information (Sinitox), from Fiocruz.

According to the president of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), Dirceu Raposo de Mello, many cases seen in Brazilian emergency rooms are not even part of this statistic. “These are just the cases that reach the tip of the system. And what's not enough? ”, He asks.

The Sinitox coordinator, Rosany Bochner, explains that, despite the high number of intoxications, the data does not actually reflect reality. “They are underestimated in at least ten thousand cases”, he estimates.

The reason: the numbers of toxicology services, such as the Poison Control Center (CCI) of Jabaquara, in São Paulo, were not computed by Sinitox. The survey was closed before the center was able to finalize its 2005 data.

By telephone, the CCI - located at the Municipal Hospital Dr. Arthur Ribeiro de Saboya - assists health service professionals who receive victims of intoxication. The press office of the Municipal Health Secretariat informed that the data were not sent because they were not reviewed at the time they were collected by Sinitox.

Next year, a new computerized system should be operating in all intoxication centers in the country. According to the president of Anvisa, the system will enable the communication of cases in real time to Sinitox. “We did a work of organizing the network,” says Mello. "We are now working to make data access faster."


For Mello, fractionated drugs would favor rational consumption. "Even in over-the-counter medications (such as painkillers), the ideal is for the sale to be made by unit," he says. "A lot of people still have those little drugs at home that end up causing poisoning."

Rosany says that simple measures such as the mandatory implementation of safety packaging would contribute to reducing accidents with children. "There are drugs that are sold abroad with these packages and not here," he says.

Another safety measure is to buy only the amount of medication needed for occasional consumption, and not to store it at home. If it is necessary to have it at home, the ideal is to keep them in places that can be closed, out of reach of children. "There are syrups, for example, which are sweet and have a strong smell," says Rosany. "They facilitate the acceptance of children and can end up being toxic."