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The Pharmacy Guild of Australia say that taking medicines properly is essential if you want to get the most out of them.

With increasing numbers of people failing to complete their course of medicines, or not taking them as advised, this reduces the effectiveness of medicines and can also put people at risk.

National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis, said taking medicines as directed is critical to getting the best outcomes from them, and avoiding possible negative effects.

‘Read the label, talk to your doctor and pharmacist and make sure you know how to take the medicine properly. There are no shortcuts. You must take your medicines as prescribed,’ Mr Tambassis said.

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Worrying statistics

Pharmacy Guild statistics show that 30-50% of people don’t take their medication doses as prescribed by their healthcare professional, or fail to finish their medicine course.

12% of all medical admissions to hospital and 20-30% of all admissions in the population aged 65 years and over are estimated to be medication-related.

Given that community pharmacies dispense some 300 million prescriptions annually, this amounts to a major issue.

Mr Tambassis said community pharmacists and pharmacy staff can contribute to better medicine management by:

  • Helping to identify, resolve, prevent and monitor medicine use and safety problems
  • Optimising medicine regimens.
  • Designing adherence and health literacy programs customised to the needs of individual patients.
  • Developing consumer medicine action plans which have self‑management goals.
  • Communicating medicine care plans to consumers, carers and other healthcare professionals in the team.

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Reducing pressure on hospitals

Mr Tambassis said, ‘In addition to maximising the positive effects of taking medicine properly, it is important to maintain medicine adherence as this can also have a major impact on reducing the number of people admitted to hospital.

‘Research showing the high percentage of medication-relation hospital admissions indicates that this is a constant problem and one which all communities have to try to address.

‘Optimising the management of long-term conditions through medicine adherence has been shown to reduce or delay the incidence of hospitalisation in patients with chronic diseases,’ said Mr Tambassis.

‘It also has been shown to reduce the need for expensive hospital admissions and medical services.’

National President of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, George Tambassis – photo supplied

Talk to your pharmacist

Mr Tambassis said pharmacists as the medication experts were ideally placed to help patients, ‘so it is important to talk to your community pharmacist about the medicines you take and how to take them properly.’

He said community pharmacists can also help to devise a plan that is suitable for each individual patient, and which helps them to achieve their health goals and take their medicines properly.

‘Your community pharmacist is your medicines expert,’ said Mr Tambassis. ‘Speak to them for a plan that works for you.’