Will you help us build a medicinewise Australia? Be Medicinewise Week 14-20 October 2013

11 Occtober 2013

On Monday NPS MedicineWise, with the help of ambassadors Bert Newton and Dr John D’Arcy, will launch Be Medicinewise Week 2013.

The week is a national public health initiative to encourage the quality use of medicines in the community and support people to make safer and more informed decisions about their medicines and health.

Now in its third year, Be Medicinewise Week 2013 will focus on Australia’s ageing population, providing older Australians with tools and information to be active partners in their health care and medicines management.

NPS MedicineWise Clinical Advisor, Dr Andrew Boyden, says health professionals play a vital role in community education and can help older patients better understand the role of medicines in their healthcare.

“Helping patients to understand why they are taking medicines; how to take those medicines safely; and what to do if they experience problems is critical to reducing adverse medicines events,” says Dr Boyden.

“In a national census of medicines use, NPS MedicineWise found that most older Australians take five or more medicines per day and the proportion of people aged 75 years or older taking multiple medicines is double that of those aged 50-64 years.

“By taking more medicines, older people have a higher risk of adverse outcomes: people who take five or more medicines everyday are almost twice as likely to report a medicines problem as those who take less.

“Medicines use in older people is a balance between managing conditions according to disease based guidelines and addressing patient goals while at the same time avoiding medicine-related problems.

“Finding this balance can be helped when patients an active role in their care. Encouraging patients to keep a list of their medicines, discuss their long-term health goals and understand the risks and benefits of their medicines is key to safe medicines management.”

During Be Medicinewise Week, all Australians are being urged to take part in a daily medicinewise challenge. Dr Boyden says that health professionals can support their patients in the following ways:

  • Learn: Approximately 46% of people aged 50 years or older use complementary medicines. Many are not aware that these medicines may interact with prescription medicines and contribute to increased risk or pill burden. Review your patients’ medicines and ask about complementary and over-the-counter medicines use.
  • Manage: For older people taking multiple medicines, knowing the active ingredient is important so they can avoid doubling up. Ensure your patients know how to recognise the active ingredient in their medicines and encourage them to maintain an up-to-date medicines list.
  • Discuss: Encourage older people to ask questions and discuss the risks and benefits of their medicines. Assist patients and their carers to access the information they need understand their condition, their medicines and their care.

The latest therapeutic topic from NPS MedicineWise, Older and wiser: promoting safe use of medicines in older people, supports GPs to achieve good medicines management with older patients. GPs can request an educational visit via email to edvisits@nps.org.au or by calling (02) 8217 8795.

For more information about Be Medicinewise Week visit www.nps.org.au/bemedicinewiseweek

Note to editors: ***Please let us know if you would like to attend the launch event with Bert Newton, Dr John D’Arcy and NPS MedicineWise CEO Dr Lynn Weekes on Monday at 12:30pm in Sydney***


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.