NPS Media Releases – 1. Taking medicines for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)? 2. With millions taking multiple medicines, Australians are reminded to Be MedicineWise 3. Side effects: a major concern for parents and carers giving medicine to children

1. Taking medicines for gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD)? 
16 August 2018

Talk to your doctor about stepping down or stopping treatment

Many Australians use proton pump inhibitors (PPIs)—such as omeprazole, esomeprazole and pantoprazole—to manage symptoms of gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), often for extended periods of time. Common brand names include Losec, Nexium, and Somac.

Heartburn—which can be a symptom of GORD—is experienced by around one in five adults at least once each week. PPIs are among the most commonly prescribed medicines in general practice in Australia for treating symptoms of GORD.

NPS MedicineWise is encouraging people who take PPIs to have conversations with their doctor about whether stepping down (ie reducing) or stopping this treatment is appropriate for them.

Dr Jill Thistlethwaite, Medical Advisor, NPS MedicineWise, says, “GORD is diagnosed based on symptoms of reflux or heartburn that are occurring two or more times per week, or having a severe and significant impact on your life. People experiencing reflux may feel stomach acid coming up into their mouth, causing a sour, unpleasant taste. You may also have a burning chest pain or discomfort after eating, which can be a symptom of heartburn.

“As PPIs are prescribed frequently and are effective at reducing symptoms, some people may consider them as lifetime medicines. However, long-term regular PPI therapy is generally not necessary nor recommended for most people with GORD.

“After completing an initial course of daily PPI treatment, which is usually around four to eight weeks, many people can reduce and step down the amount of medicine they take and still maintain control of their symptoms. Up to 6 out of 10 people can also step down and stop taking PPIs without their symptoms returning.

“But it is really important you have a conversation with your doctor before stopping treatment to ensure this is done safely and effectively.

“In addition to talking to your doctor about whether you can reduce or stop taking PPIs, it can also be helpful to discuss possible lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, stopping smoking or reducing alcohol consumption, which could reduce symptoms or stop the need for future PPI treatment.”

The latest educational program from NPS MedicineWise—Starting, stepping down and stopping medicines—aims to equip people with evidence-based information about managing GORD, including resources to help support discussions with health professionals about safely and effectively reducing and stopping PPI treatment when appropriate. To find out more go to

For questions about medicines call Medicines Line (1300 MEDICINE or 1300 633 424), Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm AEST (excluding NSW public holidays).

2. With millions taking multiple medicines, Australians are reminded to Be MedicineWise
20 August 2018

A new survey into the medicine-taking habits of Australians estimates more than 9 million people take a prescribed medicine every day, with 8 million taking two or more prescribed medicines in a week.

The survey of more than 1,000 adult Australians conducted by YouGov Galaxy* last month, also estimates more than 2 million people take over-the-counter medicine daily and more than 7 million take a complementary medicine daily.

The findings have been released for this year’s Be Medicinewise Week (20-26 August), to raise awareness of the importance of safe and wise medicines use by families.
This year’s theme of Medicinewise families will focus on the information all families need to know about the type of medicines they are taking, administering medicines to children, or helping other family members understand their medicines.

NPS MedicineWise Medical Adviser Dr Jeannie Yoo said: “There’s no doubt medicines are part of many people’s lives, so it’s critical we have access to all the information we need about the medicines we’re taking, including why we’re taking them and how to take them correctly.”

“It doesn’t matter whether our medicines have been prescribed by a doctor or bought from a supermarket or health food store, medicines can have side effects, and can interact with other medicines if you are taking multiple medicines,” Dr Yoo said.

“Each year more than 230,000 Australians are hospitalised with problems caused by their medicine1, and if medicines aren’t used correctly, the results can be serious.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to taking medicines. We’re urging people to talk to their doctors and pharmacists about their medicines, and any medicines for children or other family members they’re caring for.”

NPS MedicineWise offers the following five steps to help keep your family medicinewise:

  1. Ask questions to get the information you need about medicines and make better informed decisions. For example, how do I take the medicine, when do I take the medicine, are there common side effects?
  2. Know it’s a medicine. Medicines don’t just come on prescription – they include over-the-counter medicines from a pharmacy, supermarket or other store, as well as herbal remedies, vitamins and other supplements.
  3. Know the active ingredient. Active ingredients are what make your medicines work. If your pharmacist offers you an alternative brand of prescription medicine, you can be sure it will work the same way as your usual medicine.
  4. Always follow instructions from your doctor or pharmacist and read the labels and packaging of your medicines carefully. For more detailed information, read the Consumer Medicine Information leaflet which is available for prescription and pharmacist-only medicines.
  5. Keep track of all your medicines. Keep a current list of your medicines on paper to keep with you, especially on visits to your doctor, pharmacist or to the hospital, or use our MedicineWise App on your smartphone.

Find more information about medicines at, or call the Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm AEST excluding NSW public holidays. To report a problem with medicines or vaccines, call the Adverse Medicine Events Line on 1300 134 237. 

*YouGov Galaxy Poll: Following completion of interviewing, the data was weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates. 

1 Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. Literary Review: Medication Safety in Australia. Sydney: ACSQHC, 2013.

3. Side effects: a major concern for parents and carers giving medicine to children
22 August 2018

Giving a child medicine is concerning for many parents and carers, with a new survey showing 69% of parents worry most about their child experiencing side effects.

The survey of more than 1,000 adult Australians, conducted by YouGov Galaxy* last month, also found parents worry about correct dosage (62%), remembering how often to give the medicine (60%) and if they’re administering medicines correctly (56%).

This Be Medicinewise Week (20-26 August), NPS MedicineWise is urging all families to ensure they have the correct information about the safe use of medicines before giving medicine to a baby or child.

NPS Medicinewise Medical Adviser Dr Jill Thistlethwaite said: “Giving a child medicine can be daunting for parents and carers, because it’s so important the medicine is administered correctly, and at the right dose, to be effective and to avoid accidental harm.

“While most medicines are well tolerated by children, there may be side effects such as diarrhoea with some antibiotics,” Dr Thistlethwaite said.

Whether the dose of an over-the-counter medicine should be determined by a child’s age or weight is one issue confusing many parents. Half of the parents surveyed with children aged 4 or younger have concerns about whether they need to weigh a child before administering a medicine.

Dr Thistlethwaite said: “If in doubt ask. Small mistakes can cause big problems in little bodies, so remember to ask your doctor or pharmacist about how to correctly measure and administer a child’s medicine and discuss any concerns you have about the medicine and possible side effects.”

Last year, NPS MedicineWise pharmacists took more than 600 questions about medicines for children and teenagers (0-19 years) through its Medicines Line, with nearly 400 of those relating to children aged 0-10. Often the calls were about giving antibiotics to children and about administering medicines for coughs, colds, earaches and sore throats.

NPS MedicineWise offers the following advice for parents and carers to be medicinewise with children:

  • Always read the label and packaging and, if in doubt, ask: Children’s medicines come in different forms and strengths for different ages and body weights. If purchasing an over-the-counter medicine, check with the pharmacist if you haven’t used that medicine before, or if you have any concerns.
  • Dose according to age and weight: Over-the-counter children’s medicine labels often contain age and average weight dosage recommendations. Read these tables carefully. Do not give more than the recommended dose for the child’s age. If your child is small or large for their age, ask for dosing guidance from your doctor or pharmacist. If you can’t weigh them on a bathroom scale, try stepping on the scale holding the child. Subtract your weight from the total to get an accurate reading of your child’s weight.
  • Measure accurately: Accurate measurements for liquid medicines matter. A spoon does not provide an accurate measure. Use the dosing device provided in the package, such as a dropper, oral syringe or medicine cup. Get in the habit of asking for advice on the most accurate dosing device for your child.
  • Write it down: Keep a record of the medicines you give your child to avoid exceeding the maximum daily dose and reduce the risk of double dosing – the medicine name, active ingredient, time given and exact dose. The MedicineWise app is a handy tool to record medicines information and set reminders.

Find more information about children and medicines at, or call the Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm AEST (excluding NSW public holidays).
To report a problem with medicines or vaccines, call the Adverse Medicine Events Line on 1300 134 237. 

*YouGov Galaxy Poll: Following completion of interviewing, the data was weighted by age, gender and region to reflect the latest ABS population estimates.

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