Upcoming changes to the way medicines are prescribed are an important reason for people to understand what the active ingredient in their medicine is. Active ingredient prescribing—announced in the 2018-19 Federal Budget**—means most medicines will be prescribed by the active ingredient rather than the brand name. To avoid confusion it’s important people understand the difference and learn to recognise their medicines by the active ingredient.
The active ingredient is the chemical in the medicine that makes it work. The same active ingredient can come in different forms, such as in a tablet or as a liquid, and can also be sold as different brands – so it’s important to know how to recognise the active ingredient to avoid putting yourself at risk of accidental overdosing.
The YouGov Galaxy survey indicates that people are better at recording the brand of their medicine than the active ingredient. Of those people who record information about their medicines, only one in five (22%) said they’d record the active ingredient of the medicine – compared to half of those people (48%) saying they’d capture the brand name of the medicine.
When reflecting on the last time they had discussed a newly prescribed medicine with a doctor or pharmacist, around half of all people surveyed said they had spoken about how much of the medicine they needed to take each time, when and how to take the medicine, how long they should take the medicine for or what side effects might happen. However, only 16% of people said they had discussed what active ingredient was in the medicine.
“Knowing what the active ingredient is in a medicine is an important part of being medicinewise – and being safe when you take your medicines,” said Mr Morris.
“Taking more than one medicine with the same active ingredient may mean that you are accidentally taking too much of that active ingredient. This can have a number of unintended consequences such as the medicines not working as well, increased risk of side effects, and increased chance of harm,” he said.