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How to read Consumer Medicine Information (CMI)

5-minute read

What is a consumer medicine information leaflet?

Consumer medicine information (CMI) gives you information about your medicines. The CMI gives you facts you need to know before, during and after taking your medicine.

A CMI leaflet gives you information on how to use your medicine safely. For example, it tells you about:

  • who should take the medicine
  • who should not take it
  • how to take the medicine
  • any known side effects
  • other medicines it may interact with

Your pharmacist will give you a CMI when you start a new medicine. You can also ask them for the CMI.

Pharmaceutical companies write the CMIs. They must follow government guidelines on what to include. The information must be correct, unbiased, and easy to understand.

All prescription medicines and some non-prescription medicines have a CMI leaflet.

What other information is in a CMI?

The CMI will also include:

  • the brand name of the medicine
  • the active ingredients
  • other ingredients
  • information on the safe storage of medicine
  • instructions on what to do if you miss a dose
  • instructions on what to do if you have left over medicine
  • information on possible interactions with other medicines
  • contact details for the pharmaceutical company

Where to find your CMI

You can get your medicine’s CMI by:

  • checking the medicine packaging (it is sometimes inside)
  • asking your pharmacist or doctor to print it for you
  • calling 1300 MEDICINE on 1300 633 424 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, Eastern Standard Time)
  • searching in healthdirect's medicines section
  • searching NPS MedicineWise Medicines finder
  • contacting the maker of your medicine (you can find the contact details on the company’s Australian website)

You can search for a pharmacist near you on the healthdirect service finder.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

Using your CMI

Always make sure you have the right CMI. Check that the brand name on the CMI matches the brand name of your medicine.

Read the CMI before taking any new medicine.

Keep all your CMIs in the one place so you can easily find them. You may need to check some details while using the medicine. For example, you may want to check what to do if you miss a dose.

Is this medicine right for me?

If you have read the CMI and you aren’t sure whether the medicine is right for you, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. You have a right to ask questions.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

Understanding interactions

Sometimes one medicine can affect how another medicine works. One medicine can change the side effects of another. This is called an ‘interaction’.

Interactions can also happen between medicines and certain foods or drink, including alcohol.

Known interactions are listed in your medicine’s CMI.

Before you start any new medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist if there are any interactions you should know about.

Tell them about any other medicines (including any over-the-counter and complementary medicines) you are taking.

Where can I find out more about my medicines?

The website provides CMIs for most of the prescription medicines available in Australia.

You can get information over the phone by calling 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) from anywhere in Australia. Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm AEST (excluding NSW public holidays).

Looking for more medicine information?

healthdirect’s medicines section section allows you to search for medicines by brand name or active ingredient. It provides useful information about medicines such as:

  • their use
  • whether they are available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  • product recalls

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: August 2022

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