9 million Australians take prescription medicines daily
More than 9 million people take a prescribed medicine every day, with 8 million taking two or more prescribed medicines in a week, according to a new survey into the medicine-taking habits of Australians.
The survey* of more than 1000 adult Australians also estimates more than 2 million people take over-the-counter medicine daily and more than 7 million take a complementary medicine daily.
The findings were released as part of a campaign by NPS MedicineWise to raise awareness of the importance of safe and wise medicine use by families.
NPS MedicineWise Medical Adviser Dr Jeannie Yoo said: “There’s no doubt medicines are part of many people’s lives, so it’s critical we have access to all the information we need about the medicines we’re taking, including why we’re taking them and how to take them correctly.
“It doesn’t matter whether our medicines have been prescribed by a doctor or bought from a supermarket or health food store, medicines can have side effects, and can interact with other medicines if you are taking multiple medicines,” Dr Yoo said.
“Each year more than 230,000 Australians are hospitalised with problems caused by their medicine1, and if medicines aren’t used correctly, the results can be serious.
“There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to taking medicines. We’re urging people to talk to their doctors and pharmacists about their medicines, and any medicines for children or other family members they’re caring for.”
NPS MedicineWise suggests patients follow five steps to improve their understanding and awareness of their medications:
- Ask for information about the medicines in order to make better informed decisions. For example, how do I take the medicine, when do I take the medicine, are there common side effects?
- Know it’s a medicine. Medicines don’t just come on prescription — they include over-the-counter medicines from a pharmacy, supermarket or other store, as well as herbal remedies, vitamins and other supplements.
- Know the active ingredient. Active ingredients are what make your medicines work.
- Follow instructions from the doctor or pharmacist and read the labels and packaging carefully.
- Keep track of all your medicines. Keep a current list for visits to doctors, pharmacies or the hospital.
*YouGov Galaxy Poll: Following completion of interviewing, the data was weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.
1. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. Literary Review: Medication Safety in Australia. Sydney: ACSQHC, 2013.
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