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Are you Taking Your Prescription Medicines Safely?

In a poll undertaken by NPS MedicineWise, results reveal that while a high number of respondents take prescription medicines, advice on taking medicines safely and effectively is not necessarily being followed.

The polling indicates as many as one in three respondents take prescription medicines daily and most Australians have taken a prescription medicine at some point.

However, the survey found that around 30% of respondents have stopped taking a prescription medicine without talking to their doctor first, or against their doctor’s advice.

The polling also revealed that only around half of respondents are having conversations with their doctor about how much medicine to take, when and for how long. Conversations about possible side effects and interactions are even less commonplace.

NPS MedicineWise clinical advisor and GP, Dr Andrew Boyden, says it’s important for Australians to ask the right questions of their health professionals.

“All medicines have risks and benefits, and asking the right questions when these are prescribed to you can help reduce your risk of misadventure,” says Dr Boyden.

“It’s also really important not to stop a prescribed medicine without first discussing  your situation with a health professional. In some instances stopping a medicine suddenly can lead to serious problems. You should always have a conversation with your health professional to get the right advice for you.”

NPS MedicineWise offers the following tips to help people be medicinewise:

  • If you are prescribed a medicine make sure you ask your health professional how to take it safely and correctly, whether there are possible interactions or side effects, and whether taking it might affect your ability to drive or operate machinery
  • Seek the advice of your health professional before stopping a medicine
  • Read the Consumer Medicines Information leaflet and familiarise yourself with the side effects. If you experience a significant side effect relating to your medicines, it’s important to contact your health professional. You are also able to report this to the Therapeutic Goods Administration via the Adverse Medicine Events Line on 1300 134 237.
  • If you have general questions about your medicines or potential interactions between your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines, call the NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424

“Asking the right questions, reading the label and packaging, and following the advice of your health professionals are key to medicines safety,” says Dr Boyden.

This Be Medicinewise Week, NPS MedicineWise urges all Australians to remember the importance of being safe and wise about medicines. Take the medicinewise challenge at www.nps.org.au/bemedicinewiseweek.