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This section provides news and general information about the NZULM including latest releases and any developments being undertaken.

News items include:

NZULM Celebrates First Year - August 22, 2012

July 2012 marked a year since the NZULM was released for general use. It is being used more and more by clinicians across the sector.

NZULM information can be accessed through the website, via smart phone apps on Android, iPhone and Windows 7 phones; is increasingly being embedded in clinical management systems for general practitioners, community pharmacists, hospital doctors and hospital pharmacists; and is powering the New Zealand Formulary and the NZ ePrescription service.

Over the last year the NZULM team has introduced a series of improvements to the NZULM. These include:
  • all listed medicines are now identified by their WHO ATC (Anatomical Therapeutic Classification) code. This allows clinicians to identify medicines with similar characteristics when making therapeutic decisions. To experience the advantages of searching for medicines information in this way, click here
  • all listed medicines now have prescribing terms for their generic and trade names. This will make it easy for clinicians to select medicines either generically or by trade name when prescribing or dispensing using their practice management software
  • all medicine listings now provide structured information about their active ingredients. This will allow vendors to provide alternate ways to document a prescription and to provide enhanced decision support
  • Medsafe now uses NZMT descriptions and identifiers to manage applications for new and changed medicines. This means that from now on information about these medicines will be more easily and safely incorporated in clinical and management systems (over 1000 new or changed medicine products were listed in the NZULM in the last year).

    • What’s next?

      The current focus is very much on further adoption of the NZULM in clinical and management systems. Enhancements planned or in development include improvements to the website search, barcode information to support computer-aided product identification, dispensing label descriptions, Tall Man lettering to further reduce the risk of medicines with similar names being confused, and providing information about the other non-medicinally active constituents in medicines to improve sensitivity and allergy checking.

Press Release - Hon. Peter Dunne - July 25, 2011

"The New Zealand Universal List of Medicines, designed to prevent potentially harmful confusion about medicines has been given its general release", Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said today.

Read more: Download the full press release (pdf - 101kb)

General Release 1 - July 2011

The NZULM has its first major release in New Zealand in July 2011, following a year-long evaluation period, and is now available for general use in the sector.

The first general release of NZULM information extensively covers medicines used in primary and secondary care.

The NZULM, which is already available for use on the iPhone and iPad as well as Android Windows Phone 7 devices, will be progressively rolled out to key prescribing and dispensing systems and medicines information providers through to March 2012. A number of vendors have already integrated, or are in the process of integrating, the NZULM into their systems. For example, the New Zealand Electronic Prescription Service, currently undergoing a community trial prior to national roll-out, utilises the NZULM as a key feature.

ANZTPA - June 2011

The Australian and New Zealand Governments have agreed to proceed with a joint scheme for regulation of therapeutic goods (ie medicines, medical devices, etc). To review the fact sheet click here

We have received some enquiries for comment, in particular people are wondering what are the implications for NZULM.

As ANZTPA progresses through its establishment stages we anticipate that there will be some changes at an operational level however we do anticipate the NZULM service will continue. We do know that the NZULM is a model that Australia is watching closely as it is one they would potentially like to see in Australia. We have also made sure that the NZ Medicines Terminology (NZMT) component of the NZULM is aligned to the Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT) to enable harmonisation at a future point.

NZULM on smart phones - May 2011

The NZULM is now available for use on the iPhone, iPad, Android devices, and Windows Phone 7 devices.

For iPhone / iPad click here

For Android click here

For Windows Phone 7 click here

NZULM Evaluation release - December 2010

The NZULM product listings now number approximately 5250. At this point the products listed include all medicines regularly prescribed in New Zealand. The products listed include all medicines on the Pharmaceutical Schedule, almost all hospital medicines used in NZ, almost all OTC products currently available in NZ, and an increasing range of section 29 and discontinued products. The information in the NZULM is undergoing extensive review. This is an important stage as once released the information in the NZULM will be used in clinical practice and must be fit for purpose. The review includes working with PHARMAC to achieve their sign off that the NZULM is an authoritative source of the Pharmaceutical Schedule.

We will recommend moving from evaluation to general release when we have quality assured the content in the NZULM and the operational processes for maintaining an up-to-date and quality medicines terminology, the creation and distribution of the aggregated data (i.e. the medicines terminology plus Medsafe, PHARMAC and Guild data) and the provision of support to the sector.

NZULM Evaluation release - October 2010

The NZULM listings now number approximately 4450 products. Approximately 2000 new listings have been added since the release in May including further hospital, section 29 and OTC products and synonyms identified through feedback. More are being added daily. The NZULM now includes Pharmacode® numbers.

We will recommend moving from evaluation to general release when we have quality assured the content in the NZULM and the operational processes for maintaining an up-to-date and quality medicines terminology, the creation and distribution of the aggregated data (i.e. the medicines terminology plus Medsafe, PHARMAC and Guild data) and the provision of support to the sector.

NZULM Evaluation release - May 2010

We are very pleased to announce the release of the he New Zealand Universal List of Medicines (NZULM).

The Associate Minister of Health, Peter Dunne, officially launched the NZULM at Hutt Valley DHB on the 31st of May 2010.

The NZULM has cleared a major step in its development and is being released for evaluation prior to general release for vendors and others to incorporate in systems for use by clinicians and other professionals using medicines information. The evaluation period is expected to be 6 months.

Preparing the NZULM for evaluation release has been a major undertaking conducted over a short space of time. The operation of the NZULM service has been documented and the views of potential users about the information they need was gathered. The NZ Medicines Terminology (NZMT) has been created, and information from Medsafe and the PHARMAC Schedule has been attached to the NZMT to create the NZULM. A website has been developed so you can search the NZULM.

Information on thousands of medicines has been gathered, recorded and checked. The NZULM now contains almost all of the medicines commonly prescribed in NZ along with many section 29 and discontinued medicines. More are being added daily.

It is important to note that the NZULM is not yet ready for general release. The purpose of the evaluation release is primarily to test the NZULM information and ensure it is fit for purpose and clinically safe.

That's where we need your help.

While the NZULM team has been very thorough, we are all too aware there will be aspects of the system and information which can be improved. What we want to do now is test the NZULM in depth, both the information and the system. We need to be sure the information is fit for purpose and clinically safe.

We want to know what you think can and needs to be improved and why – have you found information which is incorrect or confusing. We’d also like you to report any problems with data accuracy you find as a final stage in our quality control system.

Please note that the website is a window into the information available in NZULM. It is not a prescribing or dispensing tool.

So please take the time to try the system. Throw the hardest medicines information requests you can think of at the NZULM, test the system and follow the links to make sure they work. When you have comments to make please send them to Please make sure you describe the problem clearly. We may need to get back to you to ask questions about your comments or to try some ideas out with you. And when we’ve made some changes in response to your ideas we will, with your agreement, come back to you to test them out.

At the end of the evaluation phase we expect any issues identified to have been resolved and the NZULM will be released for clinical use. After that the NZULM system will be further refined and updated to reflect the experience and changing requirements of users. The information provided by the NZULM will also be incorporated into practitioner systems ensuring New Zealand health providers have convenient, ongoing access to standardised, up-to-date medicines information.

Establishing the NZULM - June 2009

The New Zealand Universal List of Medicines (NZULM) Establishment project is now underway and is targeting March 2010 to complete an evaluation release of the NZULM.

The New Zealand medicines strategy, Medicines New Zealand (MNZ), was released in December 2007. MNZ identifies three outcomes for the New Zealand medicines system: Quality, Safety and Efficacy, Access and Optimal Use. The Safe Medication Management Programme (SMMP) is one of five programmes of work overseen by the Quality Improvement committee (QIC). SMMP began on July 2008 and aims to reduce patient harm through medication error.

The NZULM is an important foundation for MNZ and SMMP and other ePharmacy initiatives. It addresses a number of known issues including:
  • No sector wide approach to medical / pharmaceutical descriptions and coding in New Zealand; and
  • Multiple parties aggregating commonly used information about medicines (and devices).

The impacts of these issues include patient safety, duplicated effort, clinical and administrative process inefficiency and associated cost as well as hindering key foundational sector strategies such as Medicines New Zaaland, Safe Medication Management and other ePharmacy initiatives.

The NZULM provides a standardised medicine terminology based on international standards. It also provides a “one-stop shop” for users to access non-clinical basic facts about medicines (e.g. active ingredients, legal classification, subsidy status, etc). It will be regularly updated (at least monthly initially).

The first release of the NZULM will be a stand-alone version available for use directly and to pilot within eHealth systems (e.g. prescribing and dispensing systems) and other data sources (e.g. MIMS).

The New Zealand Medicines Terminology Recommendation Report - 2009

The Health Information Standards Organisation (2010) is an advisory group to the National Health IT Board, which sits under the National Health Board (NHB). It was formally part of the Health Information Strategy Action Committee (HISAC) and before that part of the Ministry of Heath.

In 2008 HISO formed an expert group to assess Medicines Terminology options for NZ. This group produced a report recommending the adoption and adaptation of the SNOMED-CT based Australian Medicines Terminology as the best way forward for the New Zealand Medicines Terminology (NZMT). The report also recommended that a formal project be set up to establish the terminology in several stages and that the project should be governed by NZ based experts with formal linkages to the body responsible for the Australian Medicines Terminology. To review the report click here.

The report was the genesis of the The New Zealand Universal List of Medicines (NZULM) Establishment project.