Survey reveals one in two Australians taking DIY approach to prescribed medicines
Wednesday August 4
Many Australians are potentially failing to get the most from medicine by consuming prescription medicines in a way that differs from their doctor's advice.
Sydney, August 04 2010 – Pfizer's recent ground breaking 'Medicine Compliance' survey of 2,511 participants in Australia shows that 53% take prescription medicine on a long-term basis. In an ageing society like ours, this is not unusual, however, of concern is that many Australians make a personal decision about if - and how – they'll take their prescribed medicine.
It is quite normal for people to question any medicine they are prescribed, however, personal concerns should always be discussed with health care professionals to avoid the risk of making ill advised decisions about taking medicines and potentially prolonging an illness or experiencing a further deterioration in personal health and well-being.
Conducted in April 2010 by independent research agency StollzNow, Pfizer's research found that almost two out of five Australians surveyed (38%) at some stage choose not to have a prescription filled at all. Common reasons include the cost of medicine (24% of respondents); fear of becoming dependent on the medicine (20%); and mistrust of a doctor's diagnosis (10%).
More worrying, only one in two (55%) “always" finish their course of medicine – even when directed to do so. The majority (57%) of people said they didn't complete the course of medicine because they “got better"; 32% “forgot" to take their prescribed medicine; 14% believed it wasn't working and 17% admit they “couldn't be bothered" taking their prescribed medicine. The survey also revealed one in ten people who fail to finish a course of medicine are stockpiling for the future.
Risky business –pass a drink and past the use by date
Almost 80% of Australians surveyed have, in some way, not taken their medicine properly. Almost one in four (23%) take their prescription medicines with alcohol, 41% mix and match their doses in an ad hoc way and 16% take medicine past its expiry date.
Dr Bill Ketelbey, Country Medical Director at Pfizer Australia says, “There are often valid reasons why people question their prescription medicine – and this is every patient's right, however, many fears and concerns can often be overcome simply by airing the issues with a GP or pharmacist. It's important that anyone being prescribed medicine should feel comfortable having an open and frank discussion with their doctor about what is best for their health."
Offshore online pharmacies pose serious risks
Taking a do-it-yourself approach to prescribed medicine a step further, around 10% of those surveyed have bypassed their doctor altogether, and used online pharmacies based overseas to purchase medicines that would normally require a prescription here in Australia.
Dr Ketelbey notes, “This is an especially worrying practice, and one we caution against. Indicating just how risky this can be for personal health, 8% of Australians say they know someone who has required medical treatment after taking medicines purchased from overseas online pharmacies."
"All medicines involve some risks" adds Dr Ketelbey. "However consuming prescribed medicine in the way your doctor has advised offers the greatest benefits for our health. Anyone who has concerns about their prescribed medicine should discuss these with their doctor or pharmacist. The important thing is to avoid taking matters into your own hands. Personal health and well-being is too important to merit a do-it-yourself approach."
NOTE: The survey results provided in this media release are from a Pfizer sponsored survey conducted in April 2010 by independent research agency StollzNow, which questioned 2,511 participants from around Australia.