Updating medicine ingredient names - the overview
Over time we've updated some medicine ingredient names used in Australia to align with names used in other countries.
In different countries, different names are used to describe the same medicinal ingredient. Over the years, some medicine ingredient names in Australia got out of date. This can be confusing for Australians who travel internationally, as well as health professionals who have trained overseas or people looking up medicine information online.
In 2016 we updated some medicine ingredient names used in Australia to align with names used internationally. This has been done by some other countries over the years, including the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Not all medicine ingredient names were changed. A list of the original names and updated medicine ingredient names is available at: List of affected ingredients.
Ingredient name changes
Some changes are minor, for example, changing a 'y' to an 'i', and will not affect how the ingredient name is pronounced.
Some changes are more significant. For these products, medicine labels will need to use both the old and new ingredient name for some time to help people get used to the new name. For example, medicines containing lignocaine had to be shown on labels as 'lidocaine (lignocaine)' before moving to show only the new name ‘lidocaine’ from 2023. For more information see: Dual labelled medicine ingredient names start the transition to sole names on 30 April 2023.
We introduced the new names over time
- In 2016 we began a 4-year transition period for medicine companies to show the updated names on labels and Product Information (PI) and Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) documents. This ended on 30 April 2020.
- Some updated names had to be shown as both the old and new name by 1 May 2020 before transitioning to only the new name. For example, medicines containing lignocaine were dual labelled as ‘lidocaine (lignocaine)’ and will begin to appear as ‘lidocaine’ sometime after 30 April 2023. See Dual labelled medicine ingredient names start the transition to sole names on 30 April 2023.
- In 2023, we announced some changes to the dual labelling period for some dual labelled ingredient names. Most dual labelled ingredient names will transition to show only the new name from May 2023. A small set will be dual labelled for longer or won’t change.
Changes to medicine labels take time. Updated labels appear gradually as new stock is distributed, and existing stock is sold, to support the medicine’s availability in the community.
For health professionals
Take care when prescribing, dispensing and administering medicines to make sure that the right product is selected.
To check the new and old names see our List of affected ingredients.
More information for health professionals about dual labelling is available at: Understand ingredient names on medicine labels as they transition to show new names only.
If you see an ingredient name you don’t recognise, or have questions about ingredients in medicines, speak to your health professional.
The dual labelling period enters the transition to new names only on 30 April 2023 for most ingredients. By 1 May 2026 all affected medicines released for supply need to reflect the new names only. A small set of ingredients must be dual labelled for longer or won’t change to sole names. More information about dual labelling is available at: Dual labelled medicine ingredient names start the transition to sole names on 30 April 2023.
More information for sponsors about our work to harmonise ingredient names with the names used in other countries is available at: Updating medicine ingredient names - information for sponsors.