Using your medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic

Information for consumers about medicines and COVID-19

Using your medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic

Please note: Information, evidence and advice relating to COVID-19 is constantly changing. The information in this article was correct at the time of writing.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to continue to take your usual medicines and stay as healthy as possible. Here is some important information for everyone to keep in mind. 

You can also visit our main COVID-19 page

Read information about COVID-19 translated into community languages

From 1 November 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved certain testing kits that allow Australians* to test themselves for COVID-19 at home. Home-use tests use a nasal swab or saliva sample to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The tests usually provide a result within 10–20 minutes.

The list of COVID-19 self-tests approved by the TGA can be found by clicking here. Instructions on how to use each test can also be found on this website.

It is important to only purchase and use self-tests (home-use tests) that have been approved by the TGA.

If you use a self-test at home and get a positive result, you must let health authorities know.

TGA consumer fact sheet: Home use tests for COVID-19

TGA COVID-19 rapid antigen self-tests (for home use)


Update your medicines list

If you take one or more regular medicines, now is the time to make sure you have an up-to-date list of all the medicines you take.

This is important if you need to go to hospital unexpectedly or visit a doctor or pharmacist who is not familiar with your health status. Updating your medicines list is easier when you are feeling well, so now is the time to make sure yours is up to date.

A medicines list is a complete list of all your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines. Record the active ingredient of each of your medicines, what the medicine is for, and how and when to take it.

If you care for someone, help them prepare a list of their medicines too, and make sure family members know where and how to access a copy of each other’s medicines lists.

You can record your list of your medicines or the medicines of someone you care for in whichever way suits you best.

You can download a blank copy of the NPS MedicineWise medicines list or download the free MedicineWise app for your phone. The MedicineWise app can store a list of your medicines and general health information, schedule reminders and provide information on your medicines. It also helps people who care for loved ones who use multiple medicines manage a list on their behalf. Download the free MedicineWise app from Google Play or the App Store.

Most importantly, have the medicines list with you when you go into hospital, or visit or talk to your doctor.


Home supplies of medicines

Medicines play an important role in treating conditions and diseases. They help people to manage long-term conditions and to manage symptoms of short-term illnesses. However, there is no need to stockpile large quantities of medicines you or your family take.

There are regulations that limit how many scripts of a prescription medicine can be dispensed by a pharmacist at one time. These rules are important from a safety perspective.

Having much more than a month’s supply of medicines is generally not necessary and comes with extra costs and medicine safety risks. Using our Medicines List, or downloading our MedicineWise app can help you and your family track your medicine usage, and get an idea of what a month’s supply of medicines looks like. Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you have questions about your medicines and the amount you need.

  • The medicines, doses and strengths of medicines you need can change over time. Medicines you stockpile now may not be needed for you later and may go to waste.
  • Medicines expire. If you keep too many at home, they may sit in your cupboard for a long time, and before you know it, they may have passed their expiry date.
  • Make sure you know the active ingredient in the medicines you are taking. Having multiple packs at home containing the same medicine may cause confusion and make it more likely to accidentally double dose on a medicine, which can be harmful
  • Having more medicines in the house increases the risk of them falling into the wrong hands. A child or pet may accidentally take them and have unwanted or dangerous side effects.
  • Buying extra medicines can involve extra financial costs. NPS MedicineWise has information on keeping your medicine costs down.

Asking questions about your medicines

Speak to your GP or pharmacist if you have questions about your medicines and the amount you need. You can also call the NPS Medicines Line on 1300 633 424 (1300 MEDICINE) if you have questions about prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines.

Find out more about changes to pharmacy regulations

As evidence comes to hand, we will post answers to frequently asked questions here.