Health - Medicine Lables

Medicine Labels Are Changing

Medicine labels will change to be clearer for patients.

Parts of the following content was published in the Medicine Wise Living on the 01st September 2016 (around this time)

Labels on prescription and over-the-counter medicines (drugs) in Australia are currently being updated. This also includes the labels on complementary medicines such as vitamins and supplements.

The changes will gradually start being introduced from 31 August 2016 in response to new requirements from the THE THERAPEUTIC GOODS ADMINISTRATION

However, customers may NOT notice a great change to medicine labels straight away, as manufacturers and suppliers have up to four years to make all the required changes.

Why are the labels changing?

Making it easier for those taking medication to find important information.

Allowing the correct and important decisions to be made about health ensuring the correct information provided.

Making sure all medicine labels carry the same important information.

So Australian medicines are up to date with international best practice.

What will the changes look like?

For over-the-counter medicines:

The active ingredients (that make the medicine work) will be easier to find and read on the new label

Other ingredients in the medicine that could cause allergic reactions (such as shellfish, fish, eggs, soya, milk and tree nuts) will need to be listed on labels

A table will be included on the new label to help customers find important information about the medicine.

Learn More from the Australian Government Department of Health


Other general Medicine Information

Active ingredient

Indication (what it is used for)


Directions for use

Active ingredient


For prescription medicines:

The active ingredients (that make the medicine work) will be easier to find and read on the new label

Other ingredients in the medicine that could cause allergic reactions (such as shellfish, fish, eggs, soya, milk and tree nuts) will need to be listed on labels, otherwise there must be a statement on the label directing customer's to the Consumer Medicine Information leaflet for more information.

A clear space for a dispensing label must be available. Pharmacists add these labels and include important information like the customer's name and dosage instructions. Having a clear space for a dispensing label will make sure that other information on a carton or bottle is not covered.

Remember - changes to the label do not mean a customer’s medicine has changed. The changes are to make sure the customer has all the information they need to make the right decisions about taking medicines for health. It is very important to always check to the correct medicine name and active ingredient before buying medicine.

Some ingredient names will also change

All medicines are made up of active ingredients that make the medicine work, and inactive ingredients that help to form the medicine.

Sometimes, one or more ingredients in a medicine can have different names depending on the country where the medicine is sold. In addition, some active ingredient names used in Australia are no longer current and different from international names.

The updates will depend on the medicine. For some it is a single letter change in the spelling. For other medicines, the active ingredient name will change a lot and may not look anything like the old name.

A full list of the affected medicines is provided on the Australian Government Department of Health website.


How does this affect the customer?

Remember - even if the name of the active ingredient has slightly changed, the medicine is still the same.

If a customer notices that the name of the medicine they are taking has changed, the old name remains in the container in brackets next to the new name. This is one way to confirm that the customer is consuming the same medicine, despite the name change of the active ingredient. One needs to always ask a medical practitioner or pharmacist if one is unsure about taking the correct medicine.

Please Note: No medical information is published on this website and articles show are not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and the reader is advised not to take any action before consulting with a health care professional.

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