The Editorial Executive Committee welcomes letters, which should be less than 250 words. Before a decision to publish is made, letters which refer to a published article may be sent to the author for a response. Any letter may be sent to an expert for comment. When letters are published, they are usually accompanied in the same issue by their responses or comments. The Committee screens out discourteous, inaccurate or libellous statements. The letters are sub-edited before publication. Authors are required to declare any conflicts of interest. The Committee's decision on publication is final.

Letter to the Editor

Editor, – As a retired doctor, I have recently been prescribed various medications about which I wish to obtain more information. I realise that my doctors do not have the time to detail all the side effects, and anticipated finding these in an information sheet within my new packs.

In the case of Patanol eye drops I was not disappointed - just overwhelmed. With Acimax tablets there was no insert, leading me to ask the pharmacist for the drug information sheet. This was dated 2006 and omitted the important facts that it could cause vitamin B12 deficiency and that in postmenopausal women taking calcium carbonate, calcium malabsorption might occur. The next disappointment was with Celebrex. No insert in the packet and an inadequate drug information sheet reprinted from MIMS. Next, Mobic to replace the ineffective Celebrex. Again no information included.

As so many patients are admitted to hospital suffering from the ill effects of prescribed drugs, any measure which improves surveillance, even by the patient, should be welcomed. I believe that there is a good case to be made for including an information sheet with all prescription drugs listing their common contraindications and side effects accompanied by a caveat saying where further information can be obtained about less common adverse events.

John Martin
Retired general practitioner
Peppermint Grove, WA

Editorial comment

In addition to talking to their own doctor or pharmacist, consumers can call Medicines Line for independent information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines. Pharmacists are available on 1300 888 763 between 9 am and 6 pm Eastern Standard Time Monday to Friday. Health professionals can call the Therapeutic Advice and Information Service (TAIS) on 1300 138 677 between 9 am and 7 pm Eastern Standard Time Monday to Friday.

Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) for many medicines is available from the National Prescribing Service at
http://www.nps.org.au/search_by_medicine_name