Adverse Drug Reactions

  • Paulo Ricardo CriadoEmail author


Adverse events and adverse drug reactions are common in clinical practice. Side effects range from the common to the rare and may be confused with other mucocutaneous manifestations resulting from several medications to treat infections, other medical conditions, and in the clinical setting of oncologic treatment. The objective of this chapter to review current data on adverse drug reactions, here classified as (i) severe adverse drug reactions, (ii) uncomplicated cutaneous adverse drug reactions, and (iii) adverse drug reactions caused by chemotherapy drugs, particularly those cases whereby the dermatologist is requested to issue a report and asked to comment on the safety and viability of readministration of a specific drug. We describe aspects associated with these events, presenting a detailed analysis of each of them.


Adverse drug reactions Toxic epidermal necrolysis Stevens–Johnson syndrome Multiforme erythema Exanthema DRESS syndrome Drug-induced vasculitis Anticoagulant-induced vasculitis Drug-induced urticaria Fixed drug eruption Erythema nodosum Photoallergic reactions Acneiform eruptions Acute urticaria Angioedema Drug-induced psoriasis Lichenoid eruptions Drug-induced bullous diseases Symmetric drug-related intertriginous and flexural exanthema Adverse reactions to chemotherapy 



Adverse drug reactions (ADRs)

Include all unintended pharmacologic effects of a drug except therapeutic failures, intentional overdosage, abuse of the drug, or errors in administration. They can be classified as predictable (type A – 80% of the ADRs) or unpredictable (type B).


An immediate systemic reaction that occurs when a previously sensitized individual is re-exposed to an allergen. It is caused by rapid IgE-mediated immune release of vasoactive mediators from tissue mast cells and blood basophils with a potential late component. This is a systemic severe ADR affecting skin, mucous membranes, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, and cardiovascular system.

Drug allergy

An immunologically mediated response to a pharmaceutical and/or formulation (excipient) agent in a previous sensitized patient.

Drug idiosyncrasy

An abnormal and unexpected effect that is unrelated to the intended pharmacologic action of a drug and has an unknown mechanism. It is not mediated by a humoral or cellular immune response but is reproducible on readministration. It may be due to underlying abnormalities of metabolism, excretion, or bioavailability.

Drug intolerance

An undesirable pharmacologic effect that may occur at low or conventional doses of the drug without underlying abnormalities of metabolism, excretion, or bioavailability of the drug. Humoral or cellular immune mechanisms are not thought to be involved, and a definitive mechanism for such exaggerated responses has not been established (e.g., acetylsalicylic acid-induced tinnitus at low doses).

Pseudoallergic (anaphylactoid) reactions

Immediate systemic reactions that mimic anaphylaxis but are caused by non–IgE-mediated release of mediators from mast cells and basophils. Often caused by radiocontrast agents.

Severe ADRs

Include all adverse effects which are unpredictable life-threatening ADRs and need prompt recognition to reduce integumentary and internal organ damage and, thus, morbidity and mortality.

Uncomplicated ADRs

Include mild or moderate adverse drug effects on healthy patients, not involving life-threatening situations.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Dermatology, School of MedicineSao Paulo UniversitySao PauloBrazil

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