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Updating medicine ingredient names

1 May 2020

Poster for updating medicine names - don't worry

In different countries, different names are used to describe the same medicinal ingredient. Over the years, some medicine ingredient names in Australia became out of date. This can be confusing for Australian consumers and healthcare professionals who travel internationally, as well as people like doctors who have trained overseas or people trying to access medicine information online.

We have 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 in 2003 and New Zealand in 2008.

Not all medicine ingredient names were changed. A list of the old and updated medicine ingredient names is available at: List of affected ingredients.

Posters and leaflets to help raise awareness of the changes are available for you to download.

What is happening

  • The four year transition period for medicine companies to implement these changes ended on 30 April 2020.
  • Medicines with labels using the new ingredient names will continue to appear on shelves. Some medicines with labels using old ingredient names may still be available on shelves and in warehouses as this stock is gradually used up.
  • Although the name of the ingredient may have changed, the medicine is the same.

The TGA has also announced other changes to medicine labels. The transition periods for these two activities have been coordinated as much as possible.

What types of 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 three years after the end of the transition period (until 30 April 2023) to help consumers and healthcare professionals become familiar with the new name. For example, medicines containing lignocaine will need to be dual labelled as 'lidocaine (lignocaine)'.

For health professionals

Take care when prescribing, dispensing and administering medicines to make sure that the right product is selected.

For sponsors

The transition period ended on 30 April 2020. From 1 May 2020 all medicines released for supply need to reflect the updated ingredient names.

Further information for sponsors is available at: Information for sponsors