NPS Media Releases 1. Pain Relief Overuse 2. Taking Medicines as Prescribed


17 OCTOBER 2014 – On the final day of Be Medicinewise Week 2014, NPS MedicineWise is reminding people that excess consumption of common pain relievers is a serious medicine safety issue.

A recent poll* on behalf of NPS MedicineWise suggests that many Australians have exceeded the maximum daily dose of over-the-counter painkillers, potentially posing significant risks to their health. 

NPS MedicineWise clinical advisor, Dr Andrew Boyden, says that while these medicines are among the most commonly used in Australia, people need to exercise caution and use them properly.

“Pain relievers like ibuprofen and paracetamol are readily available at convenience stores, petrol stations and pharmacies, but they are still medicines which can have serious side effects if not used appropriately,” says Dr Boyden.

The survey of around 1000 Australian consumers revealed that:

*   8.5% of respondents have exceeded the maximum daily dose of ibuprofen

*   7.3% of respondents have exceeded the maximum daily dose of paracetamol

*   Gen-Y Australians are twice as likely as older generations to have overused ibuprofen with codeine.

Dr Boyden said the findings are concerning and the risk of overdose on pain relievers needs to be taken seriously.

“Acute overdose is a risk for those exceeding the maximum daily dose of pain relievers,” says Dr Boyden.

“Also the long term effects of excessive use can— depending on the medicine— increase your risk of kidney damage, gastrointestinal bleeding, and liver damage.”

Pain relief medicines have an important role to play when used properly, however it is important to consider the role of non-medicine treatments to manage pain, for example heat packs or physiotherapy. If you are using pain relievers it is really important to understand how to use them safely and properly, and to get advice from your health professional.

“Your health professional is the best source of information about managing your medicines safely and wisely,” says Dr Boyden. “It’s also important to understand and follow the instructions on the packaging, and you can always ring the NPS Medicines Line if you have questions about your medicines.”

As part of Be Medicinewise week NPS MedicineWise is urging people to take our online challenge and learn how to be more medicinewise. The challenge can be accessed at

For more information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and minerals) from a health professional, call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) for the cost of a local call (calls from mobiles may cost more). Hours of operation are Monday–Friday 9am–5pm AEST (excluding public holidays).     


15 OCTOBER 2014 – During this Be Medicinewise Week 2014, NPS MedicineWise is urging Australians taking prescription medicines to be medicinewise as polling* reveals that while a high number of respondents take prescription medicines, advice on taking medicines safely and effectively is not necessarily being followed.

The polling indicates as many as one in three respondents take prescription medicines daily and most Australians have taken a prescription medicine at some point.

However, the survey found that around 30% of respondents have stopped taking a prescription medicine without talking to their doctor first, or against their doctor’s advice.

The polling also revealed that only around half of respondents are having conversations with their doctor about how much medicine to take, when and for how long. Conversations about possible side effects and interactions are even less commonplace.

NPS MedicineWise clinical advisor and GP, Dr Andrew Boyden, says it’s important for Australians to ask the right questions of their health professionals.

“All medicines have risks and benefits, and asking the right questions when these are prescribed to you can help reduce your risk of misadventure,” says Dr Boyden.

“It’s also really important not to stop a prescribed medicine without first discussing  your situation with a health professional. In some instances stopping a medicine suddenly can lead to serious problems. You should always have a conversation with your health professional to get the right advice for you.”


NPS MedicineWise offers the following tips to help people be medicinewise:

*   If you are prescribed a medicine make sure you ask your health professional how to take it safely and correctly, whether there are possible interactions or side effects, and whether taking it might affect your ability to drive or operate machinery

*   Seek the advice of your health professional before stopping a medicine

*   Read the Consumer Medicines Information leaflet and familiarise yourself with the side effects. If you experience a significant side effect relating to your medicines, it’s important to contact your health professional. You are also able to report this to the Therapeutic Goods Administration via the Adverse Medicine Events Line on 1300 134 237.

*   If you have general questions about your medicines or potential interactions between your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines, call the NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424)

“Asking the right questions, reading the label and packaging, and following the advice of your health professionals are key to medicines safety,” says Dr Boyden.


This Be Medicinewise Week, NPS MedicineWise urges all Australians to remember the importance of being safe and wise about medicines. Take the medicinewise challenge at



*Online survey of 1,001 adults undertaken by Galaxy Research for NPS MedicineWise 19-22 September, 2014


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