Complementary medicines as companion products

People shouldn’t take complementary medicines just because their prescription medicines could cause nutritional deficiencies or side effects.

Adding an additional medicine should never be done lightly, especially if you’re already on multiple medicines — it adds to your financial cost, and might cause side effects or medicine interactions or even affect how well you take your other medicines.

If someone has, or suspects they have a deficiency or other side effect that is a result of taking a prescription medicine, it is important for them to see their doctor and ask questions about their medicine. Evidence of effectiveness and safety with complementary medicines is often limited.

Examining the evidence

NPS has prepared Information about using specific nutritional supplements with prescription medicines:

This information covers the evidence for using nutritional supplements as companion products, when people should see a doctor before taking them, and possible side effects and medicine interactions.

You can also get more information about these supplements from your doctor or pharmacist. They can also advise you about the use of nutritional supplements with your prescription medicines. Find out the questions you need to ask before taking any medicine in our How to be medicinewise section.

Phone for medicines information

Call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) to get information about your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and mineral supplements) from a pharmacist. Your call will be answered by healthdirect Australia.