Easy guide to using medicine safely

Medication is a lifeline for South Africans living with chronic conditions and provides relief from illness and pain, but only when it is used safely and appropriately. Pharmacists are there to guide and advise you on all matters related to your medicine and your health – make the most of their expertise with these simple tips. 

“Medication can do more harm than good if it isn’t used correctly, and so it is really important that everyone understands the basics of responsible medicine use, and pharmacy teams are ideally positioned to support patients,” says pharmacist Joy Steenkamp of Medipost Pharmacy, South Africa’s first national courier pharmacy. 

Five things to tell your pharmacist

1: All your allergies 

2: Your existing health conditions

3: All the medicines you are using – including prescription, over-the-counter and traditional medicines

4: Report any bad reactions to medication

5: If you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant

Five things to ask your pharmacist

1: What is the medication prescribed for?

2: How much and when to take your medicine

3: Are there side effects to be aware of?

4: Is there anything you need to avoid while taking the medication?

5: Advice for managing symptoms of common or short-term ailments

Five things you should know

1: Keep medicines safely out of harm’s way in a cool, dry place away from sunlight

2: If antibiotics are prescribed, complete the course 

3: Always check expiry dates and package inserts

4: Often, child and adult doses vary; be sure not to exceed the recommended dose

5: If anything to do with medicine is unclear, check with your pharmacist

Five golden rules of pharmacy:

1: Never share your prescribed medication with someone else

2: Do not stockpile medicines

3: Medication abuse is dangerous – talk to your pharmacist if you are using more than you should.

4: Don’t throw away or flush medicines; hand in expired or unneeded medications to Medipost courier drivers or at any healthcare facility with a pharmacy.

5: You can tell a pharmacist anything without feeling embarrassed – as the most accessible healthcare professionals, they can offer guidance and advice when you need to see a doctor. 

“Make sure you understand everything your doctor or pharmacist tells you about how to take your medication, and feel free to ask as many questions as you need to – it is your health at stake. It can be very helpful to speak to a pharmacy professional in your home language to ensure you get the most out of these interactions,” Steenkamp says. 

Apart from the convenience and safety of the free delivery of chronic medications – including treatment for high cholesterol, diabetes and many other conditions – to any address in South Africa, Medipost Pharmacy also offers all registered patients access to telephonic clinical pharmacy advice in all official South African languages. Self-care medication is also available via the online shop.

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