Understanding the Side Effects of Medicines

One of the most frequently asked questions about medicines relates to side effects. Most people take medicines without having any side effects. Others do have some sort of reaction. However, there is generally no way of knowing which person will have a side effect, nor its severity. The brochure Understanding the side effects of medicines answers some common questions people may have about taking medicines and provides information on:

  • how common side effects can be;
  • weighing the risks and benefits;
  • getting information of your medicine;
  • reducing the chance get a side effect;
  • when side effects can happen;
  • what to do if you get a side effect; and
  • reporting side effects.

You can find more information on how to reduce the risk of side effects in the brochure Understanding the Side Effects of Medicines.

Reporting side effects

The Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australia's regulatory agency for medicines, has a system for monitoring side effects of medicines that are used in Australia. It is a voluntary system that relies on reports of suspected side effects from health professionals and consumers.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether a possible side effect is due to a medicine or to something else. If you suspect that you have developed a side effect from a medicine, even if you are not sure, it is important to report the problem.

Consumers are able to report a suspected side effect by calling the Adverse Medicine Events Line on 1300 134 237 for the cost of a local call. The service forwards all reports of suspected side effects to the Government's Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee.

You can also report a suspected side effect to your doctor or pharmacist, who can complete a report to Adverse Drug Reactions Advisory Committee. More information on reporting side effects of medicines is available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration web site at http://www.tga.gov.au/consumers/problem-medicine.htm