While the total incidence of adverse drug events (ADEs) caused by high-risk medicines in NZ is unknown, recently published trigger tool data found that opioids (32.9 percent) and anticoagulants (10 percent) were most commonly implicated for causing an ADE. Of the 19 ADEs identified in the study as contributing to severe harm or death, 50 percent were related to opioids and anticoagulant use. These results align with international literature.
In New Zealand, between July 2007 and June 2013 there were 2159 reported serious adverse events. 132 were medication-related events. Of these 23 related to opioids, 19 related to anticoagulants and seven related to insulin. This is only the tip of the iceberg as not all medication-related events are recognised or reported.
Factors that increase high-risk medicines’ potential for harm include:
See the publications and resources section for the high-risk medicines infographic, high-risk medicines factsheet and the frequently asked questions for more information on the case for change.