Following the broadcast of the ABC’s Four Corners episode last night on complementary medicines, NPS MedicineWise is reminding people to take these medicines with care.
NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes says that over 50% of all calls to Medicines Line about complementary medicines are questions about drug interactions – with the the most enquiries regarding Vitamin D and calcium preparations, multivitamin products, fish oil and other marine oil preparations, glucosamine products and St John’s wort.
“Although complementary medicines can have benefits, they can still have side effects, interactions, and cause allergic reactions, and they also undergo less testing in general compared to other types of medicines, so they still need to be used with care,” says Dr Weekes.
With complementary medicines in the spotlight, NPS MedicineWise is strongly encouraging people to be open with their health professional and tell them about all the prescription and non-prescription medicines they are taking.
“Talk to your pharmacist or doctor in the first instance to find out whether a complementary medicine might be the right course of treatment for you,” says Dr Weekes.
She urges Australians to ask if there will be any effect on other prescription or non-prescription medicines.
“Finding good information on the internet can be tricky, as there are thousands of websites providing information about complementary medicines—but you need to keep in mind that many of these are designed to sell products, and the information they provide is often not reliable,” she says.
“There are also potential pitfalls and risks when it comes to buying complementary medicines online.
“There’s no certainty that something you buy from an overseas website has been manufactured to Australian standards, and even a product with the same brand name as an Australian product may have completely different active ingredients.
“Essentially, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”