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About the NZULM

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What is the purpose of the NZULM?

The NZULM is New Zealand’s national medicines list for universal use across the health and disability sector.

The NZULM provides an up-to-date and trusted, one-stop-shop of core and commonly used information about medicines (and other products and devices where appropriate) for New Zealand.

The NZULM brings together medicines information from Medsafe, PHARMAC and the Pharmacy Guild into a single standardised product, utilising the “common medicines language” in the New Zealand Medicines Terminology (NZMT).

The NZULM is updated regularly, and is readily accessible via this website and participating practice software systems.

This diagram is an example of the points where the NZULM will be accessed and where the NZMT descriptions and codes will be stored or exchanged between parties:

diagram of the NZULMs relationship to data in the Health sector

The NZULM will form a cornerstone of the health system that supports consistent information content, standardised clinical processes and a technical environment which allows for the safe handling, sharing and reporting of medicines information. This includes key sector strategies such as Medicines New Zealand, Safe Medication Management and other electronic medicines management initiatives.

What are the intended uses of the NZULM?

The NZULM is intended for use – as a standardised data set – by those prescribing, dispensing or administering medicines, those who create medicines information databases and systems, and those who analyse and report about medicines. The NZULM can be used as a master database (essentially a ‘drug dictionary’), or used to augment existing databases. The NZULM is accessible via this website, obviating the need to search multiple sources for similar medicines information. It will assist participants in the health sector to:
  • avoid preventable prescribing, dispensing and administration errors which affect patient safety and quality of care;
  • improve the efficiency of clinical and business processes;
  • avoid duplication of effort in assembling and sharing medication lists and other information about medicines;
  • improve the reliability of medicines related data for needed for clinical, administrative, governance and planning uses; and
  • expand the range of reliable clinical decision support services available.

What information about medicines does the NZULM contain?

  • whether a medicine is approved for use in New Zealand;
  • what restrictions if any apply;
  • whether it is subsidised and the level of subsidy; and
  • any conditions that apply.

What information sources are used in the NZULM?

The NZULM brings together information from the following sources:
Medsafe, the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, is the authority responsible for the regulation of therapeutic products in New Zealand. Medsafe achieves this by pre-marketing approval of products; and post-marketing surveillance. Pre-marketing approval must be obtained for new and changed medicines. Post-marketing surveillance monitors the safety of medicines and medical devices in use.
Medsafe approves medicines used in New Zealand and monitors their safety in use.
PHARMAC (the Pharmaceutical Management Agency) manages the subsidisation of medicines. PHARMAC is a Crown Entity whose primary objective is to secure for eligible people in need of pharmaceuticals, the best health outcomes that are reasonably achievable from pharmaceutical treatment and from within the funding provided. PHARMAC provides updates on what medicines are subsidised in the form of monthly Pharmaceutical Schedules.
PHARMAC decides which medicines will be subsidise and under what conditions.
Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand. The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand is a membership organisation which provides services and support to community pharmacy proprietors. The Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand allocates the Pharmacode® identifier to a product, where appropriate.

The NZULM uses the NZMT as a "common language" for describing and coding medicines.

These sources of information about medicines are brought together into a single standardised product – the NZULM.

What information can be found in the NZULM?

The NZULM is intended to be a trusted source for:
  1. Medicines terminology (from the NZMT)
    • Generic names and the associated brand names (including synonyms where applicable); NZMT codes; ingredients; form; strength; pack details; the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) classification assign by the World Health Organisation (WHO); The Pharmacode® identifier allocated to a medicine (if one has been allocated to the medicine) by the New Zealand Pharmacy Guild.
    • The descriptions and codes used for the generic and brand names in the NZMT are based on SNOMED CT international standards for medicines terminology.
  2. Regulatory information (from Medsafe)
    • Sponsor; constituents (active ingredient(s)); packaging; legal classification and any restrictions imposed; therapeutic classification, together with links to approved datasheet and consumer medicine information (where available) for individual medicines.
  3. Subsidy details (from PHARMAC)
    • Pharmaceutical Schedule information where a medicine in question is subsidised, including any restrictions or other criteria affecting subsidised patient access to the medicine, product premiums (if any), guidelines for use, and PHARMAC’s ATC classification for individual medicines.
    • NZULM is not the authoritative source of PHARMAC information; however it is intended to be a trusted source of Pharmaceutical Schedule information provided by PHARMAC to the NZULM. This means other parties can source Pharmaceutical Schedule information from the NZULM with confidence.
The NZULM does not alter the information provided by supplier organisations; and also the NZULM is not responsible for producing this information.

What information won't be found in the NZULM?

The NZULM is not intended to provide:
  1. Clinical decision support to clinicians –
    • The New Zealand Medicines Formulary (NZMF) is intended to provide this. The NZMF builds on the NZULM by adding information such as indications, contraindications, interactions, prescriber guidance, etc.
  2. Information on individual medicines from sources other than the NZMT, the Pharmaceutical Schedule from PHARMAC, Medsafe and the New Zealand Pharmacy Guild.
  3. The NZULM website is not a prescribing or dispensing tool.

What is the New Zealand Medicines Terminology?

The New Zealand Medicines Terminology (NZMT) is a master list of medicines (and other products and devices where appropriate) for New Zealand. A standardised approach is used to name and describe each medicine and covers:

  • the trade (brand) and generic names of the medicine;
  • the strength and form of the medicine;
  • the pack size;
  • the sponsor;
  • unique NZMT identifiers for the generic and trade names of a medicine and, where the medicine has been allocated one, the Pharmacode® identifier;
  • the WHO ATC (Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical) code for each medicine.

In addition to providing standardised descriptions for individual packs of a medicine (and other products and devices where appropriate) the NZMT also provides standardised concept descriptions associated with these packs (see the diagram below). Concept descriptions are essential for generic e-prescribing and for storing and transmitting clinical information which is not linked to a particular medicine brand. Concept descriptions can be used to describe either trade or generic concepts.

The NZMT complies with the SNOMED CT international standards for medicines terminology descriptions and coding, and uses the current editorial rules for the Australian Medicines Terminology created by NEHTA (the Australian National E-Health Transition Authority) in conjunction with SNOMED CT.

The NZMT is a stand-alone New Zealand medicines terminology and over time will be internationalised by adopting common international codes for listed medicines, where they exist.

The diagram below provides a simplified view of the NZMT data model.

New Zealand Medicines Terminology Structure
diagram of the NZMT seven box structure
**Panadol is a registered trade mark of the GlaxoSmithKline group of companies


The primary use of the NZMT is to provide a common language that is shared by people who prescribe, dispense or administer medicines across the health sector in New Zealand.

NZMT descriptions and identifiers allow information about medicines to be stored (e.g. in patient records), exchanged (e.g. in a prescription), and reported (e.g. in a claim) either electronically or in hard copy without risk of uncertainty, confusion, or ambiguity.

Also, NZMT descriptions and identifiers enable electronic systems providing medicine-related clinical decision support services to provide these services safely and reliably.


The NZMT provides standardised descriptive information on:
  1. Medicines and devices which are controlled under the Medicines Act 1981. This includes medicines supplied under sections 25 and 29 of this Act.
  2. Products and devices not controlled by the Medicines Act 1981 which are listed on the Pharmaceutical Schedule.
The NZMT is not intended to provide:
  1. Standardised descriptive information on:
    • medicines and devices which fall outside the control of the Medicines Act 1981; and
    • products and devices falling outside the control of the Medicines Act 1981 which are not listed on the Pharmaceutical Schedule.
  2. Clinical information on NZMT listed medicines, products or devices.
  3. Pharmaceutical Schedule subsidy information on NZMT-listed medicines, products or devices.
  4. Information on the market status of NZMT-listed medicines, products or devices.
  5. Standardised descriptive information on all medicines or devices previously supplied in New Zealand but discontinued before 2006. (Some medicines in this group may be listed on the NZMT.)


Software vendors will usually access NZMT listing information through regular NZULM data downloads.


New or changed medicine listings are added to the NZMT at the time they are requested by the medicine’s sponsor or other agency requiring a listing for the medicine. The NZMT listing information provided with the NZULM data download is updated monthly and contains all signed-off NZMT listings available at the time the download file is approved for release.

Development pathway

The development pathway for the NZMT forms part of the NZULM’s development programme.

How can the NZULM be accessed?

If you are a NZULM user, you will usually access NZULM information through your business or clinical software (e.g. your practice management system). You will see a list of medicines to choose from (e.g. when prescribing) and might not even be aware that you are accessing the NZULM.

You can also access NZULM information directly through this website.

Software vendors and other registered users of NZULM information will receive a monthly download of the latest files. This download provides all the information described in What information can be found in the NZULM, above.

The way the information is presented to end users of systems accessing NZULM information is determined by system vendors and might differ from the way it is provided on this website.

What does it cost?

Nothing. It’s a free service from the Ministry of Health.

How often is the NZULM updated?

The NZULM is updated monthly in accordance with the Pharmaceutical Schedule update cycle. The data download file available on the first of a given month contains Pharmaceutical Schedule information applicable to that month.

How is quality managed?

All listings added to the NZ Medicines Terminology undergo three checks prior to being released. There are two checks in the process of bringing together the information to form the NZULM. These checks are in addition to the quality checks undertaken by the providers of the NZULM information.

How do I use the NZULM?

You can use the search tool at the head of this page, or access the NZULM through your practice software. If you’re not sure how to do that, talk to your software vendor.

The development pathway for the NZULM

There are two major releases of the NZULM planned at this stage. With each release, the depth of information and functionality available to users will increase. The normal monthly cycle of Pharmaceutical Schedule updates will continue in between these major releases.

Medicine information flows and the NZULM

The diagram below summarises the utilisation of NZULM information in clinical and related processes. It covers both the direct use of NZULM information in processes and use of NZULM to facilitate the delivery of other support services.

diagram of the NZULMs relationship to data in the Health sector