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Survey exposes CMI failure

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The distribution of information about prescription medications at pharmacies has again been put under the spotlight after a new national survey found that majority of patients failed to receive it.

An exit survey of more than 550 pharmacy patients conducted by University of South Australia researchers found that, overall, only six per cent received Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) with their drugs.

That included only 15 per cent of patients receiving a prescription for the first time and four per cent of those that came for a repeat script.

Researchers also conducted a phone survey of more than 1,500 people, of which 46 per cent said they never or rarely received a CMI with their prescription or over-the-counter medication.

The survey's findings are the latest in a series of warnings that patients were failing to receive CMI, despite pharmacists being paid to dispense the leaflets, and the study's authors have called on professional organisations, regulatory bodies and pharmaceutical companies to implement new strategies.

"It's a long-standing issue and that is why we are calling for a reassessment of what could be the best way forward," study co-author Dr Agnes Vitry said.

"We cannot hide anymore and say it will improve over time."

Dr Vitry said some pharmacists thought the side-effects listed in a CMI could cause anxiety and alarm while others complained that the information was not available on their dispensing software.

"Some said the consumer didn't speak or read English or some said the consumer was obviously in a rush," she said.

Dr Vitry suggested that CMI may need to be included with the packaging again.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia national president Kos Sclavos, however, said pharmacists were getting "conflicting messages" and that the paper usage required to print CMI is being criticised by politicians on environmental grounds.

"The Guild spends $500,000 a year advertising the service," Mr Sclavos said.

"We're saying the government should do the same. Patient behaviour will drive pharmacy behaviour."


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