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Not really knowing what the medicine is for

Not really knowing what the medicine is for

Many people do not know why they are taking their medicines, or what each medicine is for. This means you might still be taking a medicine which is no longer the right one for you, and that might do you more harm than good!

If you aren't sure, do not just guess. Many medicines can be used for more than one condition. You may know someone else who is taking the same medicine, but it might not be for the same condition!

If you don't know what your medicines are for, you should keep taking the medicine, but you should talk to your doctor, or ask your pharmacist about it. They will help you understand what it is you are taking, and they will be able to confirm whether you should still be taking it.

If you can, you should keep medicines in their original packaging because:

  • it keeps the medicines in good condition
  • the information on the label is really important

There is a lot of text on the label which must be there by law. It can be difficult to read and understand, but the instructions on there are really important.

It must include the following, all of which is a good idea to read and understand:

  • what the medicine is (its form and its strength)
  • total quantity dispensed (the amount of medicine in the box or bottle)
  • how much to take
  • when and how to take it
  • warning or cautionary instructions (for example 'take with food')
  • storage instructions - if needing refrigeration
  • patient name
  • pharmacy address and telephone number
  • date of dispensing (the date that the pharmacist gave it to you)
  • the expiry date of the medicine should be on the main container

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