New changes to prescriptions highlight the active ingredient in your medicine

From this month, people who receive a prescription from their doctor might notice a few changes in how the prescription information looks.

From 1 February 2021 most new medicine prescriptions must now include the active ingredient, and if needed a prescriber may also include the medicine brand name, which will appear after the active ingredient information.

NPS MedicineWise medical adviser and general practitioner Dr Jill Thistlethwaite says active ingredients are the chemical compounds in medicines that have an effect in the body.

“The active ingredient is the chemical in the medicine that makes it work, and these changes to prescriptions will mean active ingredients are easier to identify on prescriptions,” says Dr Thistlethwaite.

“The same active ingredient can come in different forms, such as in a tablet or as a liquid, and in different packaging with different brand names,” she says.

The changes will help people understand more about the medicines they are taking, including making it easier for them to talk with their prescriber or pharmacist about the options for different medicines that contain the same active ingredient.

Professor Paul Kelly, Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer has emphasised the benefits this change will have, saying to avoid confusion it is important people learn to recognise their medicines by the active ingredient.

“Taking more than one medicine with the same active ingredient may mean that you are accidentally taking too much of that active ingredient,” Professor Kelly says.

“This can have a number of unintended consequences such as the medicines not working as well, increased risk of side effects, and increased chance of harm,” he says.

Your doctor or pharmacist can answer any questions you have about your medicines and their active ingredients. You can also call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) for information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines from a health professional.

To find out more about the changes read the NPS MedicineWise article for consumers: ‘Active ingredient prescribing: All you need to know’.


    Media contact

    Matthew Harris, NPS MedicineWise Communications & PR adviser: (02) 8217 9229, 0419 618 365 or [email protected]