What's really in my medicine?
Have you ever tried to find out what’s in a medicine you’ve just purchased? A careful and thorough examination of the label reveals one ingredient, and possibly mentions it also contains lactose. But surely there’s more to a capsule than that?
Customers are increasingly exasperated that they cannot easily access information of the names of excipient ingredients used in therapeutic goods. A search of the public Australian Register for Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) listing wont be of much help either. Currently consumers can contact the sponsor company (or manufacturer) or can make a request for specific ingredient information from the TGA.
Occasionally consumers may experience adverse reactions to a product, and to identify whether specific ingredients may have contributed to this look to find out what excipient ingredients have been included. The active ingredient is the therapeutically active part of the final formulation, and the proposed benefits of the good are due to this being included at the indicated strength or concentration.
Excipient ingredients are included in the medicine's final formulation, but are not identified as being a therapeutically active component. Flavours, colours, preservatives and coatings are all excipient ingredients. Excipients are also found in other types of therapeutic goods. For example, the sticky stuff on the TENS pads or what’s added to liquid disinfectants to prevent them becoming contaminated.
In response to consumer frustration at not being able to readily find all ingredients of their medicine, the TGA has opened a consultation, seeking feedback on a proposal to publish the names of excipient ingredients used in therapeutic goods in the public view of the Australian Register for Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). They are looking for responses from industry and consumers on what the likely impact of displaying the names of excipient ingredients would have. Ultimatley they hope that if information was available publicly, it will help consumers make more informed and safer choices about their medicines.
To provide input, consumers are able to use the new survey that the TGA are trialling, or utilise the standard submissions form. The consultation closes on 10th October 2019.