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Media Release



Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Aged Care


Friday 13/11/98




Australians have been urged to seek quality information to help them use their medi cines safely and effectively.


The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator the Hon. Grant Tambling, said today good information about medicines was important if people were to get the best results from their treatment.


Senator Tambling was speaking at the launch of the Internet site for the Commonwealth-funded medical journal Australian Prescriber at Parliament House in Canberra, as part of National Medicines Week .


National Medicines Week, in its third year, is a Commonwealth Government initiative coordinated by the Pharmaceutical Health And Rational use of Medicines (PHARM) Committee — which advises the Government on quality use of medicines issues — in consultation with peak health professional, consumer and industry bodies.


A key feature of the event will be a free week-long medicines information phone-in, giving consumers the chance to call from anywhere in Australia and speak to a pharmacist or doctor about their medicines. The Freecall number is 1800 440 155 , and the service runs from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.


“The Internet is a great source of information for consumers, but not all health sites contain quality, credible, independent information. People have to consider if the information they come across is accurate, and from a reliable source,” Senator Tambling said.


Australian Prescriber has an international reputation for providing health professionals with unbiased, reliable and up-to-date information about medicines, and I applaud the publication’s editorial board and staff for their initiative in making this valuable resource available to consumers.


“The more people understand about their medicines, the easier it is to use them wisely.”


He urged prescribers and consumers seeking information about medicines on the Internet to look for quality sites.


A workshop organised by the South-West Asia-Pacific division of the Drug Information Association earlier this year came up with a few questions for people to keep in mind, including:


·  Is the site clearly identified?

·  Is it sponsored by a reputable organisation, such as a government agency/university?

·  Is the author reputable?

·  Has the date on which the information was created or last updated been included?

·  Are all sides of the argument presented?

·  Are all vested interests identified?


Senator Tambling said while an increasing number of Australians were using the Internet, not everyone had access to a computer or felt comfortable using one.


“There is a range of other resources available to help people understand t heir medicines — including Consumer Medicine Information, or CMI, which is the name given to a special form of easy-to-understand information about medicines written specifically for consumers,” he said.


“But probably the most important source of information about medicines for consumers is still health professionals themselves.


“Doctors, pharmacists and nurses can all provide advice and written information about medicine, which is personalised for their patients.”


The Australian Prescriber Internet site address is:

For further information, or to arrange an interview, contact:

Peter McMahon (Senator Tambling’s office)   (02) 6277 3436 or 0419 691 443

Jenny Denholm (Department of Health and Aged Care)   (02) 6289 5177 or 0411 255 212 or

Vanessa Monaghan (Department of Health and Aged Care)   (02) 6289 5360


To arrange an interview with one of the phone-in coordinators, contact:

LynetteMcDonald   (0412)225 105