Profile of adverse drug reaction reports in South Africa: An analysis of VigiBase® for the year 2017

S Afr Med J. 2023 Jun 5;113(6):26-33. doi: 10.7196/SAMJ.2023.v113i5.16522.


Background: The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) monitors the safety of health products by collecting and evaluating adverse drug reaction (ADR) reports submitted by healthcare professionals, patients and pharmaceutical companies. The reports are shared with the World Health Organization (WHO) Programme for International Drug Monitoring. A demographic and clinical profile of ADR reports will improve our understanding of ADR reporting in South Africa to enhance training of reporters at all levels.

Objectives: This study describes the demographic and clinical profile of spontaneous ADR reports received by the SAHPRA during the year 2017.

Methods: A retrospective, cross-sectional study was conducted to describe all ADR reports submitted by South Africa to VigiBase®, the WHO global database of Individual Case Safety Reports (ICSRs), during 2017. The demographic profile included patient characteristics (age and sex), type of reporter and the vigiGrade™ completeness score for each ICSR. The clinical profile included characteristics of the case, medicine(s) and reaction(s).

Results: A total of 8 438 reports with a mean completeness score of 0.456 (SD = 0.221) were assessed. Females and males represented 61.96% and 33.05% of cases, respectively (if sex was reported). All age groups were represented; however, 76.28% involved adults (aged 19-64 years). Physicians submitted the most reports (39.66%). Consumers were the reporters in 29.39% of cases. Pharmacists submitted only 4.45% of the reports. Anti-infective medicines were the most reported Anatomical Therapeutic Class (20.08%), while Human Immunodeficiency Virus was the top indication reported (10.27%). The highest number of MedDRA preferred terms used to describe reactions belonged to the System Organ Class, general disorder and administration site conditions. In 55.87% of the reports, the cases were reported as serious and 12.47% fatal. Death was the most reported MedDRA preferred term used to describe a reaction (5.17%).

Conclusions: This was the first study that described ADR reports received by SAHPRA and improves our understanding of reporting in the country. The core clinical elements that are important in signal detection were often not included in reports. The findings demonstrated that patients were more active contributors to the national pharmacovigilance database than pharmacists. Reporters should be trained in pharmacovigilance and ADR reporting processes to increase the quantity and completeness of reports.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Pharmacovigilance
  • Retrospective Studies
  • South Africa / epidemiology


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations