What our Panel said about medication... September 2017

Managing medication can be a tricky business and ‘Be Medicinewise’ is an annual awareness week held in August to help Australians better manage and get the most out of their prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines. In light of this, the Health Panel topic this month was focused on medication use, to better understand people’s experience with managing medicines in the community. 

Responses showed that more than 7 out of 10 people regularly take prescription medicine. Six out of 10 also take vitamins or minerals regularly, 4 out of 10 take a non-prescription medicine and dietary or herbal supplements are also taken by some. Two out of 10 people reported not taking anything.

Nine out of 10 people are not worried about the number of medicines they take. It was pleasing that more than 8 out of 10 people see a doctor regularly or at least every 6 months to have their medicines reviewed.

When asked where people get most of their information about medicines, responses included:

CHP September

Panel members were also asked what information they look for on medicine labels. While the majority (95%) said they check the directions for use, other popular responses included information on medicine warnings and side effects, drug name, expiry date, symptoms and storage information.

Responses showed more than half of panel members regularly clean out their medicine cabinet and check expiry dates. Well done! More than 8 out of 10 people had not undertaken a Home Medicines Review (HMR). Four out of 10 have (or know someone who has) taken medicines at the wrong time or who have stopped taking medicines suddenly without talking to their doctor.

If medicines aren’t used properly, or if the wrong ones are used together, the results can be serious. Each year more than 140,000 Australians go to hospital with problems caused by their medicine. Seven out of 10 of these hospital visits could have been avoided.

The Home Medicines Review (HMR) was developed in response to this problem, to help consumers better manage and understand their medicines. It involves the review of a patient’s medicines in their home by a pharmacist on referral from the patient’s doctor. Generally, this is only for people who have a lot of medications to manage. For more information on managing medicines click here or speak to your doctor to see if you are eligible for a Home Medicines Review.

To find out more about ‘Be Medicinewise’ there is a wealth of information here.