Date published: 
26 July 2019
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

Australian consumers will soon benefit from improved information about the medicines they and their family take.

The Australian Government is introducing an improved format for the documents – called Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) – that doctors and pharmacists give to patients to inform them about the safe and effective use of prescription medicines and certain over-the-counter medicines.

This is in response to concerns raised by doctors, pharmacists and consumer health advocates regarding the complexity and readability of such documents.

The new template for the documents is shorter, better laid-out and features a one-page summary that succinctly provides people with the most critical information relating to the safe and effective use of their medicines. The format was user-tested and received excellent feedback from participants. The overwhelming majority of people preferred the new format, finding it easier to use and understand.

The new template also received unanimous support from doctor, pharmacist, industry and consumer representatives, who were consulted as part of this project.

Digital enhancements for CMI were also explored – and may be introduced in the future.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration will publish the new template along with instructions on its use and is working closely with the pharmaceutical sector to encourage use of this new resource.

Given there are several thousand CMIs, there will be a transition period as the various medicine companies progressively revise their materials. The Government will update relevant regulations later this year to clarify and standardise the CMI requirements and will continue consulting with medicine companies regarding implementation details.

It is important to acknowledge that useability of CMI will continue to heavily rely on the quality of the content produced by the medicine companies who are responsible for these products.

Whenever you need to take a new medicine, it is important to obtain a copy of the CMI. You can request CMI from your doctor or pharmacist, or quickly and easily access it for yourself online on the Therapeutic Goods Administration website or via the Medsearch App, which can be downloaded, to your mobile device.

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Medicine Safety: Take Care report details the extent of harms in Australia as a result of medicine use.

The report reveals that 250,000 Australians are hospitalised each year, with another 400,000 presenting to emergency departments, as a result of medication errors, inappropriate use, misadventure and interactions.

The Government invests significantly in medicines and medication management programs to support medication usage through community pharmacy including dose administration aids, medication checks, home medicines reviews and other quality use of medicines programs.

The Government is also investing $50 million to support a Pharmacy Trial Program, which seeks to improve clinical outcomes for patients and utilise the full scope of a pharmacist’s role in delivering primary health care services.

These include medication management programs and patient support services focusing on pain management, diabetes, mental health and reducing medicine induced deterioration and adverse reactions.

Since 2013, the Government has listed more than 2,100 new or amended items on the PBS. This represents an average of around 31 listings per month – or one each day – at an overall cost of around $10.6 billion.

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