Recent survey findings have revealed that occasional users of medicines — including prescription, over-the-counter, and alternative or complementary forms of medicines — are potentially not getting the full benefits from their medicines, compared to people who take medicines more often.
The survey (conducted for NPS MedicineWise by Galaxy Research) showed people who take medicines less often or who take fewer medicines are more likely to stop a course of medicine early without speaking to the health professional that prescribed or recommended the medicine to them, and less likely to follow instructions relating to their medicines
Furthermore, nearly 1 in 6 people (15%) don’t take their medicine as instructed, this is more common in those who are younger, those who take medicines less than daily, and those who take fewer medicines.
Why you should take your medicine
Medicines (whether short-term or long-term) are important in treating illnesses and sometimes preventing them, so you need to use them correctly to avoid further health complications.
Often medications are used for a short time, but there are some cases where your doctor may want you to keep taking medication for a longer period of time.
NPS MedicineWise medical adviser Dr Jeannie Yoo says that sometimes good reasons to stop taking a medicine, before stopping it’s best to first speak with a health professional such as a doctor, pharmacist or nurse.
“Taking your medicine as instructed, including taking the right dose at the right time, is also really important to help you improve your health outcomes,” she says.
“‘Even though you might be feeling better, if you don’t feel a medicine is helping you it’s always a good idea to speak to health professionals first to check that it is safe to stop the medicine. For example, some regular medicines need to be stopped slowly or to be replaced by another medicine to prevent serious effects on your health,” says Dr Yoo.
How to be medicinewise
To ensure your safety, and it’s important to be medicinewise. This means:
- Understanding what your medicine is for
- Reading the labels and packaging of your medicines carefully
- Understanding how and when to take your medicine
- Always following instructions from your health professional
- Never sharing your medicine with anyone else, and ensuring young children can’t access it.
Equipping yourself with the NPS Medicine Wise MedicineList+ smartphone app (with its medicine reminders and links to medicines information) can help you manage your medicines safely and wisely.
For more information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) or visit www.nps.org.au.
Prepared from a media release from NPS Medicinewise 24 August, 2016