Brian's story: Living with multiple medicines

Find out about Brian and hear him speak about the value and challenges of taking multiple medicines.

Age at interview: 75
Number of medicines: 16
Cultural background: Anglo/Irish-Australian



Brian is retired from a marketing role and lives in Sydney with his wife.


Current medicines and conditions

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

  • Nexium (esomeprazole): reflux
  • NovoMix FlexPen (insulin, aspart): type 2 diabetes
  • Diaformin (metformin hydrochloride): type 2 diabetes
  • Diamicron (gliclazide): type 2 diabetes
  • Zocor (simvastatin): high cholesterol
  • Micardis (telmisartan): high blood pressure
  • Seretide Accuhaler (fluticasone propionate, salmeterol xinafoate): asthma
  • Ventolin Inhaler (salbutamol): asthma
  • Panadol Osteo (paracetamol): arthritis
  • Nasonex Aqueous Nasal Spray (mometasone furoate): postnasal drip
  • Aristocort cream (triamcinolone acetonide): skin inflammation
  • Efudix cream (fluorouracil): sun-damaged skin
  • Neo-B12 injection (hydroxocobalamin chloride): vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Centrum A to Zinc (multivitamin)
  • Blackmore’s Fish Oil (omega-3 triglycerides)
  • OsteoEze (glucosamine)

Medication allergies



About Brian

Brian uses more than 10 medicines, mainly for his diabetes, asthma, reflux and high blood pressure. The medicines for his diabetes have the most impact on his life, especially since he began insulin a year ago, after resisting for four years because of concerns about using needles and testing his blood. He feels a lot better since he started insulin and has got used to testing his sugar levels, calculating the right insulin dose and injecting himself. Brian sometimes finds being on so many medicines challenging but appreciates that they help him to feel well at the age of 75.r text

More about Brian

Brian started on Nexium for reflux 15 years ago, and a few years later was prescribed Micardis for high blood pressure, both of which he still takes along with OsteoEze (glucosamine) for his suspected arthritis.

In 2000, Brian was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and started on tablets to control his blood sugar. He began insulin a year ago, after resisting his specialist’s suggestion for four years because he didn’t like the idea of needles and the procedures associated with insulin. He saw a diabetes educator for a month who taught him how to use his insulin pen, monitor his blood sugar and adjust his insulin dose and found this very helpful.

Since he started on insulin he feels a lot better. At first he found it a little difficult to remember to give himself injections, and was embarrassed injecting himself in public, but he is over that now. Eating at restaurants can be difficult as Brian is meant to give himself insulin 10 minutes before he eats and he is never sure when his meal will arrive. After a year, although it is a lot easier, Brian feels he is still learning to adjust his insulin according to his diet.

Brian’s asthma was diagnosed around 2002. Since he started on puffers (Seretide and Ventolin), his asthma hasn’t affected him much, especially since he started using a spacer with his inhalers to make sure he gets the full dose of medicine with each puff.

Brian finds being on so many medicines a challenge, especially having to stick to a routine for his diabetes medicines and having to test his blood sugar at around the same time each day. If he doesn’t follow his usual regimen, he sometimes forgets to take his medicines. Mornings are generally easy, but evenings are harder, especially if Brian is out and suddenly decides to eat dinner away from home as he doesn’t usually carry his insulin or other medicines with him. Brian has a big black case for his medicines which is on a shelf at eye level and is the first thing he sees when he gets up, and he leaves his blood monitoring and insulin equipment out at night to remind him the next morning. A while ago, Brian ran out of his Zocor tablets for his cholesterol and completely forgot about them for a few months until his specialist noticed his bloods fats were very high and asked Brian whether he was still taking his medication.

Sometime Brian finds it difficult managing his medicines when travelling, especially on planes when he might need to get his medicines from the overhead locker, ask for water to take his tablets or use his insulin in public.

Brian is very trusting of doctors and doesn’t query his doctor if a new medicine is suggested. He hopes that doctors are responsible when prescribing medicines and only start absolutely essential new medicines.

While Brian dislikes feeling that his wellbeing depends on his medicines, he appreciates that taking his medicines means that at 75 years of age, he feels very well.


Listen to Brian's story

Brian’s medicines remind him that he has a number of health conditions every time he takes them. He also finds that having to be in a routine with medicines and adapting that as needed can be tiresome.
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Brian’s wife encourages him to take fish oil. He is thinking about taking more complementary medicines, as they seemed to do his mother a lot of good.
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Brian was uncomfortable using an insulin pen at first, but he found that he can use it when he is in public without attracting attention.
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The Living with multiple medicines project was developed in collaboration with

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