A+  ingredient name identifies the chemical in the medicine that produces the effect when taken. Many medicines also have a brand name given by the manufacturer.

Many medicines with the same active ingredient are available from different manufacturers and sold under different brand names. Sometimes different brands of medicine with the same active ingredient may have a slightly different formulation, colour, taste and packaging. It is important to understand that medicines with the same active ingredients will work in the same way to produce the same effect, even if they are sold under different brand names and different packaging.

If your pharmacist offers you an alternative brand of medicine with the same active ingredient you can be confident that it will have the same effect. If you have any questions about medicine brands or concerns about a new brand of medicine you have started taking please speak to your pharmacist.

More information about active ingredients and medicine brands is available from the NPS MedicineWise website:

  • find the active ingredient(opens in a new window)
  • medicines and brand names explained(opens in a new window)

It is important to take medicines as instructed

You should always make sure that you follow the instructions about how to take your medicine given to you by your doctor, pharmacist, or nurse. Some medicines may need to be taken at the same time every day to make sure that you have a stable dosage, whereas you may be directed to take other medicines only as required. Information about how to take your medicines is also contained in the Consumer Medicines Information (where available) and often printed on the label. If you are unsure about how/when to take your medicines you should check with your doctor or pharmacist.

What will/does your medicine do?

All medicines have an effect when taken into the body. Some medicines product a strong effect, whereas the effects of other medicines might not even be noticeable. Medicines are usually taken for specific effects to cure, relieve or prevent a medical condition. However, sometimes unwanted side-effects(opens in a new window) may be produced and the potential benefits of the medicine need to be weighed up against the risk of side-effects.

It is useful to discuss any new medicines you are recommended with your doctor or pharmacist so that you understand why you have been recommended the medicine and what the likely effects are. Sometimes you may be prescribed more than one medicine to treat different aspects of the same condition. When you are recommended a new medicine by your doctor or pharmacist you should make sure you discuss what medicines you are already taking so that you do not end up taking multiple medicines with the same effect or which interact(opens in a new window) to produce unwanted effects.

You can find out more information about what your medicine will do and how it works by:

  • talking to your doctor or pharmacist
  • looking at the product Consumer Medicines Information(opens in a new window)
  • visiting the NPS MedicineWise website – Medicine Finder(opens in a new window)

Side-effects

All medicines have an effect on your body. Usually a medicine is taken for a desired effect to treat a particular condition, however sometimes people will also experience side-effects. Your doctor or pharmacist can discuss possible side effects with you before you start taking a new medicine. Information about possible side-effects is available in the Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) leaflet; however you should keep in mind that not everyone will experience the side-effects listed:

  • Search for Consumer Medicines Information(opens in a new window)

Often side-effects may be mild or even barely noticeable, however sometimes unwanted side-effects may have more serious consequences and should be discussed with your doctor or pharmacist. It is important to discuss side-effects you experience with your healthcare professional. More information about side-effects is available from the NPS MedicineWise website(opens in a new window).

Interactions

Some medicines may interact with other medicines or certain foods or drinks if they are taken in combination, or even if they are taken hours apart. Interactions can alter the effects of the medicine and sometimes change how strongly the medicine works or change its side effects.

There are a range of medicines that are known to interact strongly with each other. This is why it is important to discuss what medicines you are already taking with your doctor or pharmacist before you start taking any new medicines. This includes combining over-the-counter medicines, or even vitamins. Many medicines are known to interact with certain foods and drinks such as grapefruit or alcohol(opens in a new window) and so your doctor or pharmacist may advise you to be aware of possible interactions with these foods or drinks before you start taking the medicine.

More information about medicine interactions is available from the NPS MedicineWise website(opens in a new window).

 

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