If you live in Australia and take any type of medicine, you have a right to information that you can find easily and use effectively to manage your medicine use. This information should ideally be on the medicine label or package.

Many people in industry, government, and consumer advocacy groups have been working on your behalf to ensure that this is possible as part of an overall policy of Quality Use of Medicine (QUM).

As part of QUM, CRI has been funded by the government since 1992 to undertake research and development on medicines information in consultation with consumers and other stakeholders. This government-funded consumer research led to our guidelines (Writing About Medicines for People now in its third edition) and to the implementation of Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) in Australia. Our research on medicine labelling, again with extensive consultation with all stakeholders, gave rise to new Australian regulations, tgo69a.

Writing About Medicines for People is now the de facto standard for CMI writing and consumer testing around the world; and TGO69a and the ASMI Labelling Code of Practice have delivered a steady increase in the usability of OTC medicine labelling in Australia. Good practice in this area routinely provides medicine labelling which can be successfully used by over 80% of literate consumers, compared to under 50% before 1994.

But if the draft labelling order TGO79 is implemented without major change, medicine labelling will again become unusable by at least 50% of literate consumers.

It is troubling that a Commonwealth Government agency such as TGA has totally ignored 30 years of work commissioned and paid for by the Commonwealth. However, more troubling is the harm that may come to many medicine consumers who will not be able to use their medicines safely or effectively because of poorly designed labels.

The deadline for submissions to TGA about these new regulations is rapidly approaching (Nov 5). You have no time to lose. Please express your concern here.