Aussies juggling multiple medicines: NPS MedicineWise

lots of colourful different medicines

Australians are set to be reminded about the importance of using medicines safely and appropriately next week, during Be Medicinewise Week.

Be Medicinewise Week 2015 runs next week from 12-18 October, encouraging Australians to be medicinewise at all ages and life stages.

Throughout the week there will be a daily emphasis on the importance of using medicines at different ‘ages and life stages’, including when pregnant and breastfeeding, what to think about when you’re a teenager, when medicines become a regular part of life and medicines as you age.

Be Medicinewise Week ambassador Jimmy Rees (popular children’s entertainer Jimmy Giggle from ABC Kids) will help raise awareness around the importance of giving medicine to children safely.

Karen Kaye from NPS MedicineWise says, “For many of us medicines are a regular part of life that we may not think much about.

“Be Medicinewise Week is a great opportunity to stop and check what we understand about our medicines, how we use them and how medicinewise we are.”

Recent polling of 1,000 Australian adults shows that many of those surveyed are taking prescription medicines regularly and often managing multiple numbers of medicines.

The results of this survey provide a snapshot on the use of medicines in Australia and, with so many people taking medicine (prescription, over-the-counter or complementary) on a regular basis, serves as a reminder about why it is important to be medicinewise.

Key findings about prescription medicine use:

  • 83% of the respondents aged 65 and older took prescription medicine every day.
  • 29% of respondents aged 50 or older took seven or more prescription medicines regularly.
  • 43% of Gen X (35-49) respondents reported taking three or more prescription medicines regularly.
  • 45% of Gen Y (18-34) respondents reported taking one prescription medicine regularly.

Key findings about medicines in the home:

  • 13% of respondents had more than 20 different types of medicines stored at home.
  • 39% of respondents conceded that some to most of the medicines in their home may be out of date.
  • 25% of respondents said they had knowingly taken a medicine that was out of date.

Key findings about where medicine is being purchased:

  • 86% of respondents had purchased over-the counter medicine at a pharmacy within the past year.
  • Complementary medicine is more likely to be bought at a pharmacy (51%), and many also reported making purchases at supermarkets (37%), health stores (21%), and online (11%).


“Medicines can be harmful if they are not taken as directed,” says Kaye.

“For people taking multiple medicines, side effects, interactions between medicines, accidental overdosing and forgetting to take medicines can easily become issues.

“Be Medicinewise Week reminds Australians of the importance of getting into good habits with their medicines—from cleaning out the medicine cabinet to communicating with their health professionals about all the medicines they take and making sure these are regularly reviewed.”

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