Five MedicineWise tips for your patients

New research from NPS MedicineWise shows that more than 9 million of us take a prescribed medicine every day

Released to coincide with this year’s Be MedicineWise week (20-26 August), the new data also shows that 8 million Australians take two or more prescribed medicines in a week.

And another 2 million take OTC medicine daily, with another 7 million taking a complementary medicine daily.

This year, the theme of Be MedicineWise Week focuses on family health: the information families need to know about the type of medicines they are taking, administering them to children, or helping other family members understand their medicines.

“There’s no doubt medicines are part of many people’s lives, so it’s critical we have access to all the information we need about the medicines we’re taking, including why we’re taking them and how to take them correctly,” said NPS MedicineWise Medical Adviser Dr Jeannie Yoo.

She pointed out to consumers that not only prescription medicines, but also medicines which have been bought from a supermarket or health food store, can interact with each other.

“Each year more than 230,000 Australians are hospitalised with problems caused by their medicine, and if medicines aren’t used correctly, the results can be serious.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to taking medicines. We’re urging people to talk to their doctors and pharmacists about their medicines, and any medicines for children or other family members they’re caring for.”

NPS MedicineWise offered five steps to consumers to help improve their use of medicines, and their families’.

1. Ask questions to get the information you need about medicines and make better informed decisions. For example, how do I take the medicine, when do I take the medicine, are there common side effects?

2. Know it’s a medicine. Medicines don’t just come on prescription – they include over-the-counter medicines from a pharmacy, supermarket or other store, as well as herbal remedies, vitamins and other supplements.

3. Know the active ingredient. Active ingredients are what make your medicines work. If your pharmacist offers you an alternative brand of prescription medicine, you can be sure it will work the same way as your usual medicine.

4. Always follow instructions from your doctor or pharmacist and read the labels and packaging of your medicines carefully. For more detailed information, read the Consumer Medicine Information leaflet which is available for prescription and pharmacist-only medicines.

5. Keep track of all your medicines. Keep a current list of your medicines on paper to keep with you, especially on visits to your doctor, pharmacist or to the hospital, or use our MedicineWise App on your smartphone.

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