People with chronic illness are being encouraged to become more involved in their care. For this, they need to be well informed about their medicines, and more written medicines information is becoming available. However, there is little data about its effectiveness and impact. This study examined the patient perspective of medicines information through focus groups of people with asthma. Most participants actively sought medicines information from a variety of professional and lay sources. There were some positive experiences but many examples of partial or total information failure. Individualised information was valued and medicine leaflets were generally seen as less helpful than face-to-face advice. Some felt strongly that patients with long experience should be involved in the development of medicine information leaflets. We conclude that medicine information leaflets do not currently meet the needs of users and that people who take medicines should be involved in their development and testing.