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What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

Medicine name

  • The title of the sheet is the approved or ‘generic’ name of the medicine. Drug companies give a medicine another name called a brand name. Knowing the approved name tells your health professional exactly what you are taking. If you want to know more about how medicines are named, have a look at these websites:
    http://www.genericswork.co.nz/frequently-asked-questions.html
    http://www.healthinfo.org.nz/index.htm?Generic-medicines.htm
  • Sometimes we have more than one sheet for one medicine. The extra sheets give more detailed information, for instance if there are special instructions for using the liquid form of the medicine compared to taking it as a tablet. It can also be details for using the medicine for a certain condition. When we do this we give the sheet an extra title in brackets to help you choose.
  • ‘How to say it’ guide – the approved name can be difficult to pronounce so we give you a guide on how to say it (a-mox-ih-sil-in).

What does it do?

  • We include the main conditions the medicine is used for. If there might be more uses, we say ‘and sometimes other conditions’.

How should you take it?

  • Food: We tell you if you need to take your medicine with food, or if you need to take it without food. If it doesn’t matter, we don’t say anything.
  • Other special instructions: If there are other special things you need to do to take your medicine safely, we give instructions how to do it. For example on medicines that treat infections, we tell you to finish the course, even if you start to feel better.
  • We don’t cover how much or how often to take your medicine. Check on the label of your medicine for this information. If you are confused about how to take your medicine, talk with your pharmacist.

What if you forget a dose?

  • We include information on what to do if this happens.

Can you take other medicines?

  • We list medicines that you can get without a prescription such as buying it from your pharmacy, supermarket or health food store, so you can be aware if it might cause a problem with the medicine(s) you are already taking.
  • We don’t currently cover problems that can happen with other medicines prescribed for you by your healthcare professional because they should check for these before prescribing you a new medicine.
  • You should always tell your healthcare professional all the medicines or treatments you are using before a medicine is prescribed for you. Then they can check if the new medicine is okay with the ones you are already taking.
  • We give one example of a brand name to help you identify the medicine you are buying. If you aren’t sure, check with your pharmacist.

What side effects might you notice?

  • We include side effects that are noted as common - happen in at least 1% (1 in 100) of people who take the medicine.
  • We also include side effects that rarely happen when using the medicine but could cause a serious problem with your health.
  • Some side effects are grouped together such as ‘symptoms of liver problems, including…’ because people can feel one or more than one of these symptoms if this type of side effect happens.

Other Information

  • This section covers other things to be aware of before you start and while you are taking the medicine. Some examples of what we cover are:
    • other health problems that may need to be considered before you take the medicine
    • pregnancy and breastfeeding
    • alcohol
    • driving
    • sun exposure
    • not stopping your medicine suddenly

Where do we get our information from?

We use four standard sources to decide what information to include in each section of our sheets. Where the sources don’t completely agree, we do our own research from studies that have been published. We also ask specialist health professionals or groups for their opinion.

About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at the Canterbury District Health Board. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed