#MedSafetyWeek: You can help by reporting suspected side effects to medicines

Every report of a suspected side effect helps to improve the safety of medicines for everyone

The seventh annual #MedSafetyWeek starts today and runs until 13 November. The goal is to encourage everyone to report suspected side effects of medicines. This year’s global event involves medicines regulators from 82 countries worldwide. It focuses on the important role that everyone has in reporting suspected side effects and contributing to medicines safety.

Why report?

Medicines are used to help people when they’re sick. All medicines are checked by Medsafe, the medicines regulator in New Zealand, for both safety and effectiveness before they’re made widely available. All medicines may cause side effects in some patients, so there are steps in place to monitor safety after the medicines are placed on the market. Safety monitoring can gather more information about known side effects and identify new ones.

You contribute to medicines safety when you report suspected side effects to the Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring (CARM). Medsafe and CARM work together and use information from these reports to learn more about the safety of medicines. If a new side effect is identified or there is new information about a known side effect, Medsafe can act when necessary to help protect you and others from harm.

How to report

The easiest way to report is to fill out the form on the CARM website: nzphvc.otago.ac.nz/reporting/

Anyone can submit a report. You don’t need to be certain that the medicine caused the reaction – just suspicious. You can also ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to submit a report on your behalf. Or ask a friend or relative to help you.

What to include in a report

Four things are essential to include in a report:

  • the details of the person with the side effect
  • the reaction(s)
  • the medicine(s)
  • the details of the person making the report.

Extra information is optional but really helpful. The types of information that can help with the investigation of suspected side effects include:

  • the dose and brand of the medicine
  • other medicines you are taking, including over-the-counter, herbal or alternative medicines
  • when you started and stopped taking the medicine
  • when the reaction started
  • details of what happened when you had the reaction
  • any medical conditions you have
  • whether or not you are feeling better.

If you aren’t sure, you can leave these details out or ask your healthcare professional to help you.

Thank you for reporting suspected side effects of medicines. Every report counts and helps to make medicines safer for everyone.


About Age Concern New Zealand 'on research'

At the heart of everything Age Concern does is a passion to see older people experience well-being, respect, dignity, and to be included and valued. We support, inform and advise older people on issues such as access to health care, transport, housing, financial entitlements, and social opportunities. We also work to combat real problems in our society, like elder abuse and neglect, chronic loneliness and social isolation. We provide specialist services with trained and qualified professionals able to give expert advice and assistance. Age Concern is a charity and relies on the support of volunteers and public donations to do much of the work we do. To help us help older people, please consider making a donation of your time or money. To see how, visit www.ageconcern.org.nz
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