Age at interview: 76
Number of medicines: 7
Cultural background: British


Fred is a farmer who lives with his wife in a rural area of southern Queensland.

Current medicines and conditions

Some medicines are taken regularly; some are taken only as needed.

  • Aspirin: thins blood after previous blood clot in legs
  • Pariet (rabeprazole): protects stomach from effects of aspirin
  • Diabex (metformin): controls blood sugars
  • Creon (pancreatic extract): pancreatic enzyme supplement to help with digestion
  • Crestor (rosuvastatin): cholesterol
  • Calcium and magnesium tablets: cramps
  • Vitamin C: supplement to help prevent colds.

Previous conditions and medicines discussed

  • Blood clots in leg: treated at first with warfarin to thin his blood, which was later stopped when he started on aspirin
  • Whipple’s resection for pancreatic cancer (removal of part of the pancreas and intestines, bile duct, gall bladder)
  • Heart problems 2012: sotalol.

About Fred

A while ago, Fred had blood clots in his legs, which were first treated with warfarin and now aspirin to thin his blood. Because he had part of his pancreas removed for pancreatic cancer, Fred needs to take tablets to control his blood sugars and pancreatic enzyme tablets with every meal to help with digestion.

Last year Fred was admitted to hospital after having a bad reaction to a new medicine which slowed his heart rate too much. Since it was stopped, he has made a full recovery.

Although he needs to take many of his medicines for the rest of his life, Fred doesn’t mind as they are keeping him alive.

More about Fred

Fred currently takes seven tablets regularly, five of which were prescribed by his doctor.

A while ago, Fred had blood clots in his legs and was put on warfarin to thin his blood. He found remembering to take his warfarin regularly and record the doses a bit difficult. Later the warfarin was stopped and he now takes aspirin to thin his blood, which he finds a lot easier than taking warfarin. When he started on aspirin, his doctor also started him on Pariet to counteract the effects that aspirin can have on the stomach.

Fred had some of his pancreas removed when he had a Whipple’s resection for cancer of the pancreas. The pancreas produces insulin to control blood sugars and pancreatic enzymes to help with digestion. Since the operation, Fred has taken Diabex for his sugar levels and Creon, a pancreatic enzyme supplement, with each meal.

Fred complained of cramps to his doctor who suggested he eat more salt which Fred did, but without much effect. Eventually Fred mentioned the cramps to his pharmacist who recommended calcium and magnesium tablets, which have eased the cramps a lot.

He finds it fairly easy to remember to take his medicines, with the help of a medicines list and occasional reminders from his wife. The aspirin tablets come in a pack with the days marked on them so it is easy to see if he has forgotten to take one. If Fred forgets to take his Pariet he quickly gets a stomach upset. He has a set routine for his morning medicines and finds having his tablets spaced out during the day a help. He usually leaves his tablets where he can see them, but packs them away if children are visiting.

Despite living in the country Fred doesn’t have any problems with supply of his medicines, even though there is sometimes a day’s wait for the pharmacy delivery. When he takes the last sheet of tablets out of the box, he checks if he has a prescription for more—if not he gets a script from his doctor who he sees about once a month, so he never runs really low on any tablets.

While Fred has not experienced any side effects from the medicines he currently takes, about a year ago he ended up in hospital after having a bad reaction to sotalol, which his specialist started for a heart condition. Sotalol normally slows the heart down a bit, but Fred’s heart rate dropped significantly and for a while he became very sick, was vomiting and very giddy. The doctor told his family he was very ill and might not last too much longer. One night when Fred was really bad, he was taken by ambulance to hospital and hooked up to a heart monitor, where his heart rate was found to be only 20 beats per minute, which is extremely slow. He was taken off the sotalol and has since made a full recovery.

Even though he will need to take many of his medicines for the rest of his life, Fred doesn’t mind as they are keeping him alive.

Listen to Fred's story

Fred became increasingly ill when two of his medicines interacted. This was not picked up until it was a medical emergency and his life was in danger.
Read transcript

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