Making the most of medicine

November 12, 2020 BY

Taking your medicines properly is essential if you want to get the most out of them.

However, there are increasing numbers of people who fail to complete their course of medicines or who do not take them properly.

This puts them at risk at worst, or at least possibly reducing the effectiveness of the medicines they are taking.

Statistics show that between 30 and 50 per cent of people do not take their medication doses exactly as prescribed by their healthcare professional, or fail to finish their medicine course.

About 12 per cent of all medical admissions to hospital and 20-30 per cent of all admissions in the population aged 65 years and over are estimated to be medication-related.

Given community pharmacies dispense some 300 million prescriptions annually, this amounts to a major non-adherence of medicine use issue.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia president George Tambassis said taking medicines as directed was critical to getting the best outcomes from them, and avoiding possible negative effects.

“Read the label, talk to your doctor and pharmacist and make sure you know how to take the medicine properly.

“There are no shortcuts. You must take your medicines as prescribed.

“Community pharmacists play a major role in helping patients comply with their medicine regimen to ensure they get the maximum possible benefit from the medicines they are taking.”

He said the high percentage of medication-relation hospital admissions indicated people not taking their medicine correctly was a constant problem and one that all communities should address.

“Optimising the management of long-term conditions through medicine adherence has been shown to reduce or delay the incidence of hospitalisation in patients with chronic diseases. It also has been shown to reduce the need for, and spending on, expensive hospital admissions and medical services.”

Mr Tambassis said pharmacists, as the medication experts, were ideally placed to help patients.

“Your pharmacist can be alert for non-adherence behaviours which can include failure to refill a prescription.

“They can also be on the lookout for patients omitting a dose or doses, taking an incorrect dosage or prematurely discontinuing medication.

“Other behaviours your pharmacist will be alert to include taking a dose at the wrong time or against correct instructions such as ‘take on full stomach’, taking a medication prescribed for someone else, or improperly using medication administration devices such as inhalers.

“So it is important to talk to your community pharmacist about the medicines you take and how to take them properly.”

He said community pharmacists could also help devise a plan suitable for each individual patient that helped them to achieve their health goals and take their medicine properly.

“Medicine adherence plans developed by your community pharmacists may also include lifestyle plans such as weight management, smoking cessation and so on to help increase your overall wellbeing.

“Tools such as dose administration aids and other useful advice can help ensure you stick to your medicine regimen.

“Your community pharmacist is your medicines expert. Speak to them for a plan that works for you.”

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