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The Medical Dictionary for Regulatory Activities (MedDRA) is a clinically validated international medical terminology used by regulatory authorities and the pharmaceutical industry throughout the product life cycle. MedDRA's purpose is to support the classification of adverse event information and the harmonization of medical terminology around the globe to improve patient safety. As a standardized dictionary, MedDRA facilitates the sharing, comparison, and analysis of data related to the development, licensure, and post-marketing surveillance of biopharmaceutical products.

What is the importance of MedDRA?

The importance of MedDRA lies in its role as a critical tool in patient safety and public health. It allows for the efficient organization, retrieval, presentation, and communication of adverse event data. By providing a consistent language for reporting, MedDRA enables health authorities and the pharmaceutical industry to perform meaningful analysis of adverse events, leading to quicker and more effective regulatory actions, and ultimately, enhanced patient care.

MedDRA coding facilitates the exchange of regulatory affairs information between regulatory authorities, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare professionals and other key stakeholders of the pharmaceutical industry. It allows for consistent and efficient communication about adverse events (AEs) associated with medical products.

Where is MedDRA used in regulatory and pharmacovigilance?

In regulatory reporting, MedDRA is utilized for the submission of adverse event reports to regulatory agencies. This standardization ensures that data is reported in a consistent manner, facilitating the regulatory review process and supporting the rapid identification of safety signals. In clinical trials, MedDRA terms are used to categorize adverse events, enabling consistent reporting and analysis across different studies and development programs.

For safety monitoring and pharmacovigilance, MedDRA provides a structured way to classify and analyze safety data from post-market surveillance. This classification aids in the detection of new risks and the assessment of known risks, supporting timely risk management activities. Furthermore, MedDRA's hierarchical structure, which includes levels from very broad categories (System Organ Class) to very specific medical terms (Lowest Level Terms), allows for data to be analyzed at different levels of specificity.

What are the challenges associated with MedDRA coding?

While MedDRA coding provides avenue for the standardization of terminology for adverse event reporting, many challenges are associated with its implementation. These challenges include the complexity of the coding structure, the need for continuous updates and maintenance, language and translation issues f global use, variations in coding interpretations among different users, and the potential for coding errors or inconsistencies. Additionally, integrating MedDRA codes with other databases and systems can post technical challenges. Overcoming these challenges requires ongoing training, communication, and collaboration among stakeholders to ensure accurate and effective use of MedDRA in pharmacovigilance services and regulatory activities.


MedDRA plays a vital role in the regulatory framework and pharmacovigilance activities, serving as a cornerstone for the standardization of medical terminology related to adverse events. Its importance, roles, and functions are central to the effective monitoring of drug safety, regulatory decision-making, and ultimately, the protection of public health. It is important to overcome the challenges associated with MedDRA coding in order to make sure that the use of MedDRA is accurate and effective.

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