Ethnic inequality in NSAID-associated harm in New Zealand

A New Zealand study has found that the risk of serious side effects associated with NSAID treatment in New Zealand varies between ethnicities.1 The reasons for this are unclear and further research is needed to understand these differences. The study found that:

  • Māori and Pasifika people who were taking NSAIDs were more likely to be hospitalised for stomach bleeding and heart failure
  • the difference is greater in males and people aged under 60 years
  • the risk of kidney damage was higher in Māori. 

Anti-inflammatories (also called NSAIDs) are often used to treat pain and inflammation caused by injury, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, headache, dental pain and period pain. NSAIDs are also used to reduce fever. Read more about NSAIDs.

NSAIDs available in New Zealand

There are many NSAIDs available in New Zealand. Some (such as ibuprofen) can be bought in lower than prescription doses from your supermarket or pharmacy without a prescription.

NSAIDs available in New Zealand 
  • ibuprofen (Ibugesic®, I-Profen®, Nurofen®, Brufen®, Advil®)
  • diclofenac (Voltaren®, Diclohexal®, Apo-Diclo®)
  • naproxen (Noflam®, Naprosyn®)
  • ketoprofen (Oruvail®)
  • celecoxib (Celebrex®)
  • mefenamic acid (Ponstan®)
  • sulindac (Aclin®)
  • tenoxicam (Tilcotil®)
  • etoricoxib (Arcoxia®)

What are the side effects of NSAIDs?

The main risks of NSAIDs include effects on your stomach (such as stomach upset), heart and kidneys. These side effects may be serious enough to result in you having to go to hospital, eg, stomach bleeding, heart attack, heart failure and kidney failure. Read more about the risks of NSAIDs.


  1. Tomlin A, Woods DJ, Lambie A, Eskildsen L, Ng J, Tilyard M. Ethnic inequality in non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug-associated harm in New Zealand: A national population-based cohort study  Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2020.