Consumer Medicines Information Leaflets

A survey conducted by CHF has revealed that more action is needed to improve the way people get their information about their medicines.

The Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, has raised the issue of how consumers can better access information about the medicines they take. He has asked the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to work with all key stakeholders to look at how the consumer medicines information leaflets (CMIs) can be improved to make them more consumer friendly.

CHF, along with Health Issues Centre, attended a TGA hosted workshop of key stakeholders to work through alternative models for the CMI. Representatives from manufacturers, industry associations, academics, pharmacists and other health providers, consumer organisations and TGA staff participated in the workshop.

Hopefully this work will lead to the information being presented in a more consumer friendly way and empower consumers to make informed decisions about their personal health care.

As part of our preparation for the TGA workshop, the CHF ran a survey through Australia’s Health Panel asking for consumer experiences with CMIs and about the way they get information about prescription medicines, getting over 100 responses in just under two weeks.

The preliminary results showed more action is needed to improve the way people get information about their medicines. The majority of people said when they were given a new medicine they were not provided a CMI by their doctor (91%) or pharmacist (60%). Additionally most respondents (91%) reported their pharmacist had not even advised them where they could access the CMI. This is consistent with other work showing people do not get always get the CMI.

The CHF survey also found that when given CMIs less than half of the respondents thought the CMIs readable (42%) or useful (46%) which reinforced other work CHF and others have done on this issue.

Of note was that the vast majority of respondents (91%) believed that provision of CMIs by either a doctor, a pharmacist or both should be mandatory. Physical copies were preferred by a significant majority (84%) of respondents, while a minority wanted electronic (35%) or online (35%) versions provided.

The CHF survey also showed that a concerning 1 in 3 consumers did not have a conversation with either their doctor or pharmacist about the safe and effective use of the medication. More concerning was that of those who did speak with their doctor or pharmacist, barely half (52%) reported that the conversation was useful. This means that overall more than half of consumers do not have their pharmacist or their doctor talk to them in adequate detail about the medicine. CHF will continue to work with pharmacists and doctors to improve this situation.


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Consumers Health Forum