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Health professionals are being encouraged to help their patients get to know the language of medicines during Be Medicinewise Week – August 19-25.

The theme for the ninth annual Be Medicinewise Week is ‘getting to know the language of medicines’ – communicating about medicines, knowing the right information to keep and the right questions to ask.

A YouGov Galaxy poll of 1,037 Australians, released today by NPS MedicineWise for Be Medicinewise Week, revealed nearly 75% of Australians who take medicines on a regular basis do not keep a complete record.

Only about one in three Australians who regularly take two or more medicines keep a list of all their prescriptions, over-the-counter and complementary medicines.

A further 26% of people who take regular medicines only keep a list of their prescription medicines, while the remaining 43% only record some, or none, of their medicines.

“Knowing what medicines a patient is on is very important for clinical care. If you have a person come to you in your professional capacity you need to know what they are taking because of possible side effects, NPS MedicineWise Board Director and former Commonwealth Chief Nurse, Dr Rosemary Bryant said.

“It’s always a good idea for people to keep a list readily available to give to their nurse or treating health professional.”

NPS MedicineWise is urging Australians to keep a list of all medicines they are on, when they take them, the active ingredient of the medicine and the reason why they take them.

The YouGov Galaxy survey found people were better at recording the brand of their medicine than the active ingredient.

Only one in five (22%) people who recorded information about their medicines listed the active ingredient of the medicine, compared to half of those people who used the brand name.

Only 16% of people had discussed what the active ingredient was in the medicine.

“A lot of people only list the brand name not the active ingredient. It’s about making sure people are not taking double doses. If you have two medicines with the same active ingredient that do the same job, but have different brand names it can cause adverse events due to double dosing,” GP and NPS MedicineWise medical adviser Dr Jill Thistlethwaite said.

An updated and complete list of all medicines, includes prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines.

A NPS MedicineWise Medicines List or the free MedicineWise app are accessible online.

Be Medicinewise Week posters, Medicines Lists and videos are available to health professionals on the Be Medicinewise Week website.