Top 10 questions Aussies ask about CMs


red and yellow capsules

A poster presented at the Choosing Wisely 2019 Annual Meeting has examined the major queries Australians have about their complementary medicines

The poster drew on questions asked of the national Medicines Line service about CMs.

Of the 42,000 calls received by Medicines Line from January 2014 to December 2018, more than 2000 were about a CM.

“Over 50% of calls about complementary medicines are about medicine interactions,” says Nerida Packham, pharmacist and Medicines Line Team Lead at NPS MedicineWise.

“Other questions are about side effects, what they can be used for, and use during pregnancy and breastfeeding,” she says.

“Enquiries covered a wide range of complementary medicines with fish oil, magnesium and probiotics being the most frequently asked about.”

Only 2.9% of calls were about homeopathic remedies.

The top 10 types of call enquiry were:

  1. Drug interaction (52.1%)
  2. Side effects (15.1%)
  3. Breastfeeding (10.5%)
  4. Indication (6.6%)
  5. Pregnancy (6.5%)
  6. Mechanism (6.2%)
  7. Dose/administration (5.9%)
  8. Paediatric (4.8%)
  9. How to treat (2.8%)
  10. Formulation (1.7%).

The CMs most commonly enquired about were:

  1. Fish oil (12.3%)
  2. Magnesium (10.2%)
  3. Probiotics (8.4%)
  4. Ascorbic acid (7.1%)
  5. Colcalciferol (7%)
  6. Zinc (6.5%)
  7. Glucosamine (5.5%)
  8. Echinacea (4.1%)
  9. St John’s Wort (4.1%)
  10. Calcium (3.8%)
  11. Hedera Helix (3.6%)
  12. Multivitamin (3.3%)
  13. Garlic (3.1%)
  14. CoEnzyme Q10 (3.1%)
  15. Turmeric (3%)

The poster states that when callers were asked why they called Medicines Line, 51.3% of callers reported that they were motivated to call because they were commencing a new medicine (traditional or complementary) or there had been a change in their underlying health condition.

The poster also highlights the need for further research into the pharmacokinetics and possible drug interactions of CMs, as well as improved access to evidence-based CM resources for community pharmacists.

Many of the enquiries about drug interactions between complementary and other medicines could not be conclusively answered due to a lack of reliable evidence, it warned.

Previous OTC contraceptive pill could save health system $96 million a year
Next ‘You can't just give out a pill and expect that that's actually good medical care.’

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.