This Be Medicinewise Week (19-25 August), learn more about the language of medicines so you can recognise common myths and avoid medicine mistakes.

Myth 1: Generic medicines aren’t as good as brand name medicines

Reality: Generic and branded medicines share the same active ingredients, so what makes one work also makes the other work.

In Australia a generic medicine must meet the same strict standards of quality, safety and effectiveness as the original brand. Your prescriber or pharmacist can advise whether a generic medicine is suitable for you.

Myth 2: Taking a larger dose means the medicine will work better

Reality: Taking too much medicine or taking it too often may increase the risk of side effects.

Medicines only work as expected if taken correctly, so understanding the instructions is key. Follow packaging information on over-the-counter medicines and your health professional’s advice when taking a prescription medicine.

Taking a larger dose than what was prescribed or recommended is more likely to set someone back in their health, rather than help them.

Myth 3: I can stop my medicine once I start feeling better

Reality: It is important to continue taking your medicine for as long as advised by your prescriber or pharmacist.

If you are taking a medicine regularly and think you no longer need to, check with your health professional before you stop taking it.

Some medicines should not be stopped suddenly even if you feel well or your symptoms disappear.

Myth 4: It’s okay to share a medicine with someone else if they have the same symptoms

Reality: Sharing medicines is not recommended. The right medicine for one person is not necessarily right for another.

Before writing a prescription, your prescriber will balance the benefits of a medicine with any potential risks – based on your individual health condition, medicines and characteristics (such as your age, sex and weight).

Check with your health professional before taking any new medicine, whether prescription or non-prescription.

Myth 5: It’s okay to crush a pill if you can’t swallow it

Reality: Crushing a pill can change how it is absorbed by the body and even stop it from working.

Always ask a health professional before altering a medicine. Crushing a pill may seem tempting if you have trouble swallowing, but unless advised, do not crush!

Some medicines cause throat irritation when crushed, while others can release very large doses of the active ingredient, which can lead to serious unwanted effects.

© Prevention Australia