Why every Australian should record the medicines they are taking:
Be Medicinewise Week 2019
A YouGov Galaxy survey* released today by NPS MedicineWise for Be Medicinewise Week (19-25 August) indicates that nearly three quarters of Australians taking medicines on a regular basis are not actually keeping a complete record—and this has implications for safe and effective medicines use.
Keep a complete list of your medicines
According to the new survey, only about one in three (31%) Australians who regularly take two or more medicines actually keep a list of all their prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines.
A further 26% of people who take regular medicines only keep a list of their prescription medicines, while the remaining 43% only record some, or none, of their medicines.
NPS MedicineWise Chief Executive Officer and pharmacist, Adj A/Prof Steve Morris says keeping an updated and complete list of all your medicines, including prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines, is an important part of being medicinewise.
“Keeping track of all your medicines can help reduce the risk of medicine interactions and double-ups, and can help you get the most out of your medicines, safely,” said Mr Morris.
“A medicines list needs to include medicines that have been prescribed by a health professional, as well as anything else you take for your health. This includes vitamins and herbal supplements as these are also considered medicines. The information in a medicines list can help to reduce the risk of medicine interactions when starting a new medicine and can help your healthcare provider when they review your medicines.
“Using an NPS MedicineWise Medicines List or our free MedicineWise app are easy ways to keep this record of everything you are taking,” he said.
Know the active ingredient
Upcoming changes to the way medicines are prescribed are an important reason for people to understand what the active ingredient in their medicine is. Active ingredient prescribing—announced in the 2018-19 Federal Budget**—means most medicines will be prescribed by the active ingredient rather than the brand name. To avoid confusion it’s important people understand the difference and learn to recognise their medicines by the active ingredient.
The active ingredient is the chemical in the medicine that makes it work. The same active ingredient can come in different forms, such as in a tablet or as a liquid, and can also be sold as different brands – so it’s important to know how to recognise the active ingredient to avoid putting yourself at risk of accidental overdosing.
The YouGov Galaxy survey indicates that people are better at recording the brand of their medicine than the active ingredient. Of those people who record information about their medicines, only one in five (22%) said they’d record the active ingredient of the medicine – compared to half of those people (48%) saying they’d capture the brand name of the medicine.
When reflecting on the last time they had discussed a newly prescribed medicine with a doctor or pharmacist, around half of all people surveyed said they had spoken about how much of the medicine they needed to take each time, when and how to take the medicine, how long they should take the medicine for or what side effects might happen. However, only 16% of people said they had discussed what active ingredient was in the medicine.
“Knowing what the active ingredient is in a medicine is an important part of being medicinewise – and being safe when you take your medicines,” said Mr Morris.
“Taking more than one medicine with the same active ingredient may mean that you are accidentally taking too much of that active ingredient. This can have a number of unintended consequences such as the medicines not working as well, increased risk of side effects, and increased chance of harm,” he said.
How to be medicinewise
Being medicinewise means being better informed, and using available resources to ‘get to know the language of medicines’, which is the theme for this year’s Be Medicinewise Week. Here are some tips and resources from NPS MedicineWise to help:
1. Keep a medicines list: This is a great way to keep track of the medicines you are currently taking and why you are taking them. Remember to note the active ingredient of the medicine, what it is for, the dose and when to take it. Share and update your medicines list with your health professional when you change your medicines. NPS MedicineWise has a medicines list to