Stay well on the road: Be Medicinewise Week 2013

28 August 2013

In the lead up to Be Medicinewise Week (14–20 October 2013), NPS MedicineWise is reminding travellers to stay healthy on the road by following five basic medicines safety tips.

Whether you’re hitting the highway to visit friends and relatives, taking the kids out of town for the school holidays, or embarking on a caravanning or four-wheel-driving adventure, a medicine mishap is probably not on the itinerary.

But NPS MedicineWise clinical advisor Dr Andrew Boyden says whatever the holiday, there are simple ways to avoid mistakes with medicines when you’re travelling.

“There might not be much you can do about lost luggage, unavoidable delays, or a navigator who’s reading the map upside-down, but a medicines mishap needn’t ruin your travels; especially when it can so easily be avoided,” says Dr Boyden.

NPS MedicineWise offers five tips to help travellers be medicinewise while away from home:

1. Carry the script with you
If you regularly take medicines, it’s a good idea to make sure you take a full set of current and repeat prescriptions with you, as it may be difficult to get an appointment with a doctor at short notice while you’re away from home. For some people this might also include prescriptions for medicines that you only need occasionally.

2. Pack a good supply of medicines
Remember to pack your prescriptions and enough medicines in case you need to be away from home for longer than expected.

3. Know the active ingredient in case you need to buy more
Be sure to know the active ingredient in your usual medicines so that you can get the right medicine from a different pharmacy if you need to — and to ensure you don’t double up on doses of the same active ingredient.

4. Store your medicines wisely
Keeping your medicines in their original packaging is important, as it identifies what they are, includes the dosing instructions, and ensures the medicines won’t get damaged. Keeping your medicines cool and away from sunlight is important when travelling as heat and sunlight can result in them not working properly or losing their effectiveness before the expiry date. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice for the best way to store your medicines. Remember to keep your medicines safely out of reach of young children.

5. Keep a medicines list
If you need to see a doctor while you’re away, be sure to let them know about any medical conditions you have and all the medicines you’re taking. Keeping a list of your current medicines can help with this. The NPS MedicineWise Medicines List is a template you can use to fill in the details of the medicines you take, including their names, strengths, as well as how much, when and how often you take them. The Medicines List is also available as an iPhone app.

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) . Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 9am–5pm AEST (excluding public holidays).

For more information about being medicinewise, visit



Independent, evidence-based and not-for-profit, NPS MedicineWise enables better decisions about medicines and medical tests. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

If you are a journalist seeking comment on a story or more information on any of our programs or campaigns please contact one of our media advisers: Stephanie Childs on 02 8217 8667 or Erin Jardine on 02 8217 8733 (during office hours) or call the NPS MedicineWise media phone on 0419 618 365 (for urgent media requests outside of office hours). If your enquiry is not urgent you can also send us an email.