Why Australians don’t take their medicines

Many Australian adults aren’t taking their medicines as directed, a new survey conducted for NPS Medicinewise shows.

NPS Medicinewise is currently holding Be Medicinewise Week 2015, an initiative intended to help educate Australians about their medicines.

A key message of the week is that when medicines become a regular part of life, it’s time for consumers to find way to be medicinewise and improve their health outcomes.

In the survey, respondents identified several reasons for failing to take their medicines as directed:

  • 26% said they were in a hurry and forgot;
  • 21% said they didn’t have the medicine with them when needed;
  • 16% said they stopped because of side effects; and
  • 16% said they stopped because they were feeling better.


In previous research by NPS Medicinewise, many Australians self-reported that they always, often or sometimes forget to take their medicines, or take less than instructed.

“Taking a medicine incorrectly could mean you end up with too little or too much of the medicine in your body, so you may not experience the full benefit of the medicine – or alternatively increase the risk of side effects,” NPS Medicinewise clinical adviser Dr Andrew Boyden says.

“Many people do have difficulty taking all of their medicines at the right time and dose.

“If you are having trouble understanding or managing your medicines, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.”

NPS offers the following five tips for consumers:

  • Take your medicine as directed.
  • Don’t suddenly stop taking your medicines.
  • Get to know your medicines – learn the active ingredient to avoid double dosing.
  • Give old medicines the boot – clean out your medicines cabinet regularly.
  • Communication is key – talk to your health professional about all the medicines you are taking and let them know about any problems with managing your medicines.

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