Low awareness of adverse drug reaction reporting systems: a consumer survey

Jane Robertson and David A Newby
Med J Aust 2013; 199 (10): 684-686. || doi: 10.5694/mja13.10069


Objective: To determine levels of public awareness of consumer adverse drug reaction (ADR) reporting systems in Australia.

Design, setting and participants: Cross-sectional study conducted in 2012 of residents of the Hunter Valley region of New South Wales, who participated in a computer-assisted telephone interview (CATI), and a national sample, who completed an online Pureprofile survey.

Main outcome measures: Proportion of respondents experiencing ADRs; the type of medicine involved; whether participants reported the adverse event and to whom; awareness and use of existing consumer ADR reporting mechanisms.

Results: There were 2484 CATI respondents and 2497 Pureprofile respondents. Side effects with medicines were very common (46.3% of respondents), most relating to prescription medicines (88.4%). Among respondents who had experienced a side effect, 84.6% reported the event to a health care professional, most often a general practitioner. Awareness of consumer ADR reporting schemes was low (10.4%). Of 217 respondents who had experienced a side effect and were aware of consumer reporting schemes, 46 (21.2%) had reported an ADR using one of these schemes.

Conclusions: Consumers can contribute to our understanding of medicines safety, but there is low awareness of available reporting systems. Some consumers aware of ADR self-reporting systems appear prepared to use them, but promotion of and education on how to use reporting systems are required. Significant resources may be needed to support an enhanced consumer reporting scheme.

  • Jane Robertson1
  • David A Newby2

  • Clinical Pharmacology, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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