Volume 12 Supplement 1

Scientific Abstracts Presented at the International Research Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health 2012

Open Access

P04.51. Study of natural health product adverse reactions (SONAR): active surveillance in community pharmacies

  • C Necyk1,
  • H Boon2,
  • B Foster3,
  • W Jaeger4,
  • D LeGatt5,
  • G Cembrowski5,
  • M Murty6,
  • D Vu6,
  • R Leitch6,
  • R Tsuyuki7,
  • J Barnes8,
  • T Charrois9,
  • J Arnason10,
  • M Ware11,
  • R Rosychuk12 and
  • S Vohra1
BMC Complementary and Alternative MedicineThe official journal of the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research (ISCMR)201212(Suppl 1):P321

DOI: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-S1-P321

Published: 12 June 2012


To investigate the adverse event (AE) rates associated with natural health product (NHP) use, prescription drug use and concurrent NHPs-drug use through active surveillance in community pharmacies in Alberta and British Columbia, Canada.


Participating pharmacists and pharmacy technicians screened consecutive individuals picking up prescription medications about their (1) NHP use, (2) prescription medication use, (3) concurrent NHP/prescription medication use in the previous one month, and (4) the occurrence of potential AEs. If a potential AE was identified and the patient provided written consent, a research pharmacist conducted a guided telephone interview to gather additional detailed information on the AE and medical history of the patient.


Over a total of 105 pharmacy weeks, 1119 patients were screened. Of these patients, 409 reported taking prescription drugs only (36%; 95% CI: 33.7-39.4), 41 reported taking NHPs only (3.7%; 95% CI: 2.6-4.8) and 656 reported taking NHPs and prescription medication concurrently (58.6%; 95% CI: 55.7 to 61.5). A total of 58 patients reported a possible AE, which represents 0.98% (95% CI: 0.03 to 1.93) of those taking prescription medications only, 9.8% of those taking NHPs only (95% CI: 0.7% to 18.9) and 7.5% of those taking NHPs and prescription medications concurrently (95% CI: 5.48 to 9.52).


Compared to passive surveillance, this study found active surveillance to markedly improve NHP adverse event reporting rates. Active surveillance offers improved quantity and quality of adverse event data, allowing for meaningful adjudication to assess potential harms.

Authors’ Affiliations

University of Alberta
Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto
Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa
Department of Medicine, University of Alberta
Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, University of Alberta
Health Canada
Department of Medicine, University of Alberta
School of Pharmacy, University of Auckland
School of Pharmacy, Curtin University of Technology
Department of Biology, University of Ottawa
Research Institute, McGill University Health Centre
Department of Pediatrics, University of Alberta


© Necyk et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2012

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.