Medicine Side Effects

Side effects are unwanted effects that can happen while you are taking a medicine. They may also be called “adverse drug reactions” or “adverse medicine events.” All medicines can cause side effects, including prescription medicines and medicines you can buy from a pharmacy, supermarket or health food shop. This includes such things as herbal or “natural” medicines, vitamins and minerals.

Sometimes side effects are predictable and are related to the way the medicine works. For example, a medicine that is used to stop diarrhoea may cause constipation as a side effect. Other side effects are not predictable or related to the way the medicine works. An example is an allergic reaction to an antibiotic.

The CMI for your medicine will list the signs and symptoms of side effects that you need to watch for. It will tell you what action to take if a side effect happens. Some side effects are common but not serious, and you will only need to get advice from your doctor or pharmacist if the symptoms are worrying you. Other side effects may not happen often but are potentially serious and you will need to take immediate action. If you are concerned about the possible side effects of your medicine, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

How to report a suspected side effect

Australia’s regulatory agency for medicines, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has a system for monitoring side effects of medicines that are used in Australia. It is a voluntary system that relies on reports of suspected side effects from health professionals and consumers. Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether a possible side effect is due to a medicine or to something else. If you suspect that you have developed a side effect from a medicine, even if you are not sure, it is important to report the problem.

You can ring to report your experience to the Adverse Medicine Events (AME) Line on 1300 134 237. This phone-in service, provided by the National Prescribing Service (NPS), is available Australia wide for the cost of a local call (9am to 5pm AEST Monday to Friday). You can use the AME Line to seek information about your medicine or any worries you have about taking it, or report adverse events associated with medicines, including adverse drug reactions, errors and so-called “near misses”.

You can also report a suspected side effect to your doctor or pharmacist, who can complete a report on your behalf. More information on reporting side effects of medicines is available on the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) website at


Reading the CMI does not take the place of counselling by a health professional. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist about all aspects of your medicines, including why you are taking them and what benefits / risks you can expect.

The CMI for your medicine that is on this web site is the most up-to-date version available. It may differ from a CMI that you previously received from your doctor or pharmacist, or in your pack of medicine.

This web site does not contain all CMIs for medicines sold in Australia and not all medicines have a CMI available for them. If you do not find a CMI for your medicine on this page, contact the pharmaceutical company who makes the medicine or talk to your doctor or pharmacist. The information on this web site is intended for use in Australia only.

Note: many documents on this web site are PDF files that can be downloaded and saved. If you do not have a PDF reader, you can download one now.

Product Name: the name given to the medicine by the company that makes the medicine. There may be more than one brand name if more than one company makes the medicine.

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