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Australian Medicine Labels are becoming Clearer

Over the next four years, medicine labels are changing to make it easier to find the information you need. When you buy prescription and over-the-counter medicines, sunscreens or vitamin supplements, you need important information to help you make an informed choice.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is changing medicine labels to make important information about medicine easier to find. These changes are the result of many years of consultation and they bring Australian medicine labels up to date with international best practice.

Active ingredients will be easier to find

The active ingredient is the substance in the medicine that makes it work. Under the new labelling rules, active ingredients need to be more prominent. Active ingredients will often be in a larger print size on the front label to make them easier to read. Make sure to look for the active ingredients on your medicine labels so you know what you are taking. 

Medicine information will be clearer

Most over the counter medicines will have critical health information in distinctive tables to help you use your medicine safely. Over the counter medicines are medicines that you buy without a prescription. The new rules mean that critical health information will always be displayed in a consistent order and will be easy to recognise. Always check the critical health information before you take your medicine. 

More information on the label

Under the new rules, more substances that could cause an allergic reaction will need to be included on labels. These substances include crustacea, fish, eggs, soya, milk and tree nuts. For non-prescription medicines, this information will be on the label. For prescription medicines, this information must appear on the label or in the Consumer Medicine Information leaflet with a prompt on the pack.

More room for important information

The new rules include a minimum space for dispensing labels. Pharmacists stick these labels on prescription medicines with information from your doctor. This space makes it easier for the pharmacist to attach the dispensing label without covering up other important information.

The new labelling rules took effect from 31 August 2016. A four-year transition period will allow medicine manufacturers time to update their labels and to sell their existing stock. This means that after 31 August 2016, you may start seeing updated medicine labels, but you could still see older labels as well. During the transition period both versions are acceptable - manufacturers need to meet either the old or the new rules.

From 1 September 2020, all medicine labels will need to meet the new rules.  For more information, visit www.tga.gov.au/australias-medicine-labels-are-becoming-clearer#label-why

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