Get ready for Be Medicinewise week 2012

9 March 2012

NPS is excited to announce ‘Be Medicinewise Week’ will be held again this year from March 26-31.

Building on the success of last year’s inaugural event, the week will urge all Australians to stop, think and learn more about the medicines they are using and encourage them to seek information to make better decisions about their health.

NPS clinical adviser Dr Danielle Stowasser says millions of Australians take medicines every day but often don’t know a lot about what they are putting on or in their bodies. They may be unsure about the right questions to ask their health professionals.

“Medicines have become so commonplace that often people don’t stop and ask questions like am I using this medicine the right way or is this the best medicine for my condition?” says Dr Stowasser.

“During Be Medicinewise Week NPS is once again urging all Australians to be medicinewise – to get to know their medicines better and to understand the right questions to ask their health professional.”

Dr Stowasser says people often think that medicines only come on prescription from their doctor, however there are many other substances which are also considered medicines.

“A medicine can be anything that you expect to affect your body or your health,” says Dr Stowasser.

“This can include substances bought over-the-counter — such as pain relief medicines — or complementary and herbal medicines, such as echinacea, multivitamins or fish oil.”

“Medicines also come in different forms, such as eye drops, creams and puffers – things people often don’t think of as medicines, but which have benefits and risks like any other medicines.”

With a number of commonly-prescribed medicines coming off patent this year, one focus of the week will be how to make a safe and confident choice between medicine brands.

“When medicines come off patent, often a number of generic brands with the same active ingredient will become available,” says Dr Stowasser.

“This can be confusing, but remember if your pharmacist offers you an alternative brand of a prescription medicine you can be sure it will work the same way as your usual brand. To avoid confusion, make sure you know where to find the active ingredient of your medicine and don’t just rely on the brand name.”

“This is also a good opportunity to talk to your health professional about your medicines, which is one of the most important steps to being medicinewise,” says Dr Stowasser.

Be Medicinewise Week 2012 will include various activities to encourage people to get actively involved with their medicines, including new resources for consumers, an online quiz to test your medicines knowledge and new facts and figures showing areas where Australians are not so medicinewise.

For further information on being medicinewise visit


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