Published: 5 March 2020


Adverse reaction reporting in New Zealand – 2019

Prescriber Update 41(1): 8-9
March 2020

Thank you to everyone who submitted reports of suspected adverse reactions during 2019. You are making an important contribution to the safety monitoring of medicines in New Zealand. Reporting suspected adverse drug reactions enables Medsafe to quickly identify and respond to emerging medicine safety issues.

What is being reported?

In 2019, the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM) received a total of 4,247 reports of suspected adverse reactions. These included 2,688 reports associated with medicines, 1,531 reports associated with vaccines and 28 reports associated with complementary or alternative medicines (CAMs). The reporting pattern is similar to previous years (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Adverse reactions to medicines, vaccines and CAMs, reported to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring, 2015–2019

Figure 1

Of all reports received in 2019, 18.7 percent were considered serious. Serious reports accounted for 27.7 percent of medicine reports, 2.8 percent of vaccine reports and 28.6 percent of CAM reports. A serious adverse reaction is defined as any reaction that results in death or is life-threatening, causes or prolongs hospitalisation, results in persistent or significant disability/incapacity, is a congenital abnormality or is a medically important event.

You can find more information about suspected adverse reactions reported in New Zealand on the Medsafe website, using the Suspected Medicines Adverse Reaction Search (SMARS).

Who is reporting?

Anyone can submit a report. Figure 2 shows the number of reports received from health care professionals and consumers during the last five years. Nurses continue to submit the most reports.

Figure 2: Number of reports received from health care professionals and consumers, 2015–2019

Figure 2

Reporting is easiest online

Please continue to report any suspected adverse reactions to medicines, vaccines or CAMs to CARM. Online reporting is easiest.

Other ways of reporting include:

  • electronic reporting through GP Practice Management Systems
  • using the Apple iOS app on your iPhone or iPad (download from
  • contacting CARM by phone on 03 479 7247 or emailing
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