Safety Information

Revised: 4 July 2013

Medicine Safety

Medicines are used for:

All medicines can cause adverse reactions in some people. Adverse reactions can range from headaches and upset stomach to more serious reactions such as liver or kidney injury. Some adverse reactions can be predicted, but some adverse reactions occur unexpectedly once many people take the medicine (eg, severe allergy). Most people take medicines without suffering any serious adverse reactions.

The best way to know what the possible adverse reactions might be is to read the Medicine Data Sheet and/or Consumer Medicine Information available on the Medsafe website.

More about finding medicine information

What is meant by a common or rare adverse reaction?

The chance of having an adverse reaction can be described as:

If an adverse reaction affects 1 person in every 10,000 people taking it, then 9,999 people out of 10,000 are not expected to have that adverse reaction.

How can I reduce the risk of adverse reactions?

Do adverse reactions always come on straight away?

It depends on the medicine and the person.

In general adverse reactions are most likely to happen soon after medicines are started or after increasing the dose. Other reactions can occur after long term use; patient's doctors can monitor for these reactions to prevent them occurring (eg, blood tests with warfarin).

Some adverse reactions will go away if the medicine is continued. However, any concerns should be discussed with a doctor or pharmacist.

Can I report an adverse reaction?

Anyone living in New Zealand who thinks they may have experienced an adverse reaction due to a medicine can report this to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM).

CARM informs Medsafe of any medicine related safety issues detected.

How to report an adverse reaction

What suspected adverse reactions have been reported to CARM for my medicine(s)?

You can find information on reports of suspected adverse reactions to medicines reported to CARM using the Suspected Medicine Adverse Reaction Search (SMARS). Medsafe publishes communications about safety concerns through the early warning system.

Suspected Medicine Adverse Reaction Search (SMARS)

More about the Trans-Tasman early warning system