Consumer medicine information (CMI) explained

Consumer medicine information (CMI) is designed to inform you about prescription and pharmacist-only medicines. The CMI gives you the important facts you need to know before, during and after taking your medicine.


What's consumer medicine information?

Consumer medicine information (CMI) is designed to inform you about prescription and pharmacist-only medicines. CMI leaflets are written by pharmaceutical companies, who have to follow government guidelines about what to include and ensure their information is accurate, unbiased and easy to understand.

What must the CMI contain? 

Providing standard key information in a non-biased, plain English style, the CMI will include:

  • who the medicine is approved for
  • who should not take it
  • how to take it
  • important potential side effects and interactions to be aware of.

A CMI leaflet must be produced by the manufacturer for all prescription and some non-prescription medicines. Sometimes it is included in the pack. You can search for and download the CMI leaflet for any medicine in our Medicine Finder, or you can ask your pharmacist.

Read the CMI to ensure you get the best and safest use of the medicine, or to learn more about a medicine you’re already taking. For example, you can find out about its side effects and interactions. Take it with you to your doctor or pharmacist to discuss any questions about the medicine.

Where can you get your CMI?

  • Find it using our Medicine Finder
  • Ask your pharmacist or doctor to print it for you.
  • Sometimes you can find it inside the packet or box.
  • Phone Medicines Line on 1300 633 424. You can ring 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, Eastern Standard Time.
  • Contact the medical information department of the pharmaceutical company that made your medicine. You can find their number in the phone book.

To ensure you have the right CMI, check that the brand name on the CMI (usually the largest text) exactly matches the brand of your medicine.

Always read the CMI before starting a new medicine. You may also want to refer to it while using the medicine — for example, to check if another medicine interacts with it, or what to do if you miss a dose.

All CMIs follow the same format, so it’s easy to find the information you need.

Keep it handy so you can refer to it later. Don’t use it to try and diagnose, treat, cure or prevent illness yourself.

What's included on a CMI leaflet?

CMIs are written by the pharmaceutical company that makes the medicine. The company has to follow government guidelines to ensure the information is accurate, unbiased and easy to understand.

All CMIs follow the same format, so it’s easy to find the information you need.

Adapted with permission from: Pharmaceutical Health and Rational use of Medicines (PHARM) Consumer Sub-Committee, Using Consumer Medicine Information (CMI): a guide for consumers and health professionals. Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, Canberra: 2000.

Finding trustworthy medicines information

Information about the benefits and side effects of medicines can come from many sources, including the internet, the media, even family and friends. It can often be hard to judge which information is useful and what is exaggerated hype — or even nonsense. For example, news stories might describe 'new research', or 'scientific evidence' in a way that sounds conclusive, but may not be reliable, so it pays to be careful.

Learn more about finding good information about medicines.

Medicines Line - 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424)

We collaborate with healthdirect Australia to deliver Medicines Line, a telephone service providing consumers with information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamin and mineral) medicines.

When you call 1300 MEDICINE, you will speak with an experienced registered nurse. Your question may be answered on the spot, or you may be referred to your GP or pharmacist, or to another health professional. If you have a complex enquiry, you may be put through to an NPS pharmacist.

Getting information over the phone for consumers
  • Call 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) from anywhere in Australia.
  • Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm AEST (excluding NSW public holidays).
How we can help you

Information provided by Medicines Line includes:

  • how a medicine works
  • how to take medicines
  • side effects
  • interactions with other medicines
  • medicines during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • medicines for children
  • storage of medicines
  • how to obtain consumer medicine information (CMI) for your prescription medicines
  • referrals to reliable services and support organisations, e.g. support organisations for people with your health condition
  • promotion of the quality use of medicines and provision of information that is independent, evidence-based, appropriate and safe
  • encouraging responsible use of medicines by increasing public awareness about medicines.

In addition to receiving information, callers will be encouraged to discuss the information with their own doctor or pharmacist, who are best placed to help interpret the medicines information.

This telephone service is not for emergencies, medical advice or second opinions

Medicines Line does not provide:
  • emergency services. If you have concerns about an overdose or suspected poisoning, call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 any time. For general emergencies call 000.
  • medical advice or second opinions on the medicines recommended by your health professional.

Information provided by Medicines Line does not replace advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

Protecting your privacy

NPS MedicineWise is bound by and observes all obligations it may have under the National Privacy Principles contained in the Privacy Act 1988 in respect of collection, storage and use of your personal information. Read the NPS MedicineWise privacy policy or ask one of our pharmacists.

Further information

Read more information about the services available from healthdirect.