About the drug information service

Who is the service for?

What does our service do?

How should you contact us?

Is there a charge for the service?

Time to respond

Quality assurance





Who is the service for?

For health professionals:

This service is currently available to health professionals only (e.g. general practitioners, pharmacists, midwives). Most of our enquirers are from Canterbury, although we increasingly receive questions from throughout New Zealand (and overseas).


Not for members of the public:

We are unable to answer questions to members of the public. If you are not a health professional, you should contact your usual health care provider (e.g. general practitioner, pharmacist) for discussion on medicine related issues. Your health care provider is welcome to contact us on your behalf. Alternatively, you may wish to search the following sites to obtain your own information:

Medsafe Consumer Information

Medsafe is a section of the Ministry of Health and is responsible for the regulation of therapeutic products (mainly medicines) in New Zealand.


Consumer health information for New Zealanders owned and published by CMPMedica (NZ) Ltd.

MedlinePlus Health Information

MEDLINEPlus provides up-to-date, health care information from the world's largest medical library, the National Library of Medicine at the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

For the purposes of litigation, coroner's cases, ACC reports or the pharmaceutical industry:

We do not usually provide information for these purposes. However, we may be contracted to perform these types of services, on a case-by-case basis.

[top of page]


What does our service do?

Patient-specific drug information

Our service provides drug information to health professionals to assist with the management of patients. Emphasis is placed upon answering questions that relate to the care of specific patients, rather than general patient care.


We welcome enquiries from health professionals on a wide range of drug-related topics including:

  • drug availability

  • drug safety in pregnancy and breastfeeding 

  • drug use in liver or renal impairment

  • pharmacokinetics

  • therapeutic drug monitoring

  • side effects and adverse drug reactions

  • identification

  • pharmaceutical issues


Our service responds to routine drug information enquiries by two major methods, verbal and written.

  • Verbal answers: most of our responses fall under this category. That is, we answer most questions over the telephone, often at the point of first-contact.

  • Written responses: formal, written referenced reports may be prepared for more complex enquiries. For example, those involving polypharmacy or drug use in pregnancy.


We do not assist in providing information for the purpose of research, study or for presentations. This is often time consuming and our skills are better directed at helping with specific patient care.

[top of page]

How should you contact us?  (see contact page also)

Most of our enquiries are by telephone. We generally prefer this method of contact as a verbal conversation usually allows a fuller discussion of the problem, and is often quicker (in many cases the response may be able to be given directly over the telephone, at the point of first-contact).


Written requests for information, including those that are faxed, posted, or sent via e-mail, are also appropriate. However, it is important to ensure that sufficient information is provided to allow us to answer the question appropriately.  For example, when requesting information about the safety of a drug in pregnancy, it is useful to know details such as the dose, duration, and timing of drug exposure, in relation to the pregnancy.


Telephone: 0800 DRUGINFO (0800 3784 4636) or (03) 364 0900

Fax:             (03) 364 0902

e-mail:         druginfo[AT]cdhb.health.nz


Drug Information Service

Department of Clinical Pharmacology

Christchurch Hospital

Private Bag 4710


Please include a contact telephone number for us to contact you, if clarification is required.

[top of page]


Is there a charge for the service?

There is currently no cost to health care professionals for standard drug information queries.

[top of page]


Time to respond:

Our service currently answers more than 300 questions per month. We attempt to achieve timely responses to all questions. However, enquiries are triaged on their arrival and we will answer the most urgent questions first. Questions relating to specific patients will be answered before general questions on patient care.

[top of page]

Quality assurance:

All enquiries handled by the service are quality assured. Short (generally verbal) answers are quality assured retrospectively, the week after the response was given, by about 20 clinical pharmacists and 2 clinical pharmacologists.  Written referenced reports are quality assured prospectively by one to two senior members of the department (including a clinical pharmacologist). In addition, a short user satisfaction survey is sent out to every thirtieth enquirer.

[top of page]

We have one of the most extensive ranges of literature sources in the country. One of our most useful resources is our own database that is used for recording all enquiries, for quality assurance and for audit. This database may be used to search for previous enquiries, decreasing repetition of searches.

[top of page]


Page Last Updated: 19/02/14

Clinical Pharmacology Department : Christchurch Hospital : Private Bag 4710 : Christchurch : 8140 : NZ

Phone 0800 DRUGINFO (378 446) : email druginfo[AT]cdhb.health.nz