18% taking medicine not prescribed for them

One in eight people have taken a medicine that was not prescribed for them.

According to a survey by the Health Products Regulatory Authority, this figure rises to almost one in five (18%) of 25-34-year-olds.

The study, which examines consumers’ habits and attitudes towards medicine information, reveals that: n One in four people (23%) do not read the information that comes with their medicine, while a quarter of people (26%) don’t read the directions for use. n A third of people (35%) do not read the information relating to the potential side effects of their medicine, while one in five (20%) take a prescription medicine for a shorter period than that directed by their doctor. n One in four (26%) of adults admit that they never read product information for an over-the-counter medicine, with one in five (21%) never reading information for a prescription only medicine — a rise from 14% and 12% since the same survey was conducted in 2010.

The findings were released as part of a new public information campaign by the authority to raise awareness of the safe and effective use of medicines.

The initiative advises people to take the time to always read the information printed on the packaging and/ or the product leaflet.

This information includes essential details such as the correct dose, instructions for use and potential side effects.

Chief executive of the authority Lorraine Nolan said that it was important that people took the time to inform themselves of the medicine they are taking.

“Medicines can help us to live longer and healthier lives but for the safest and most beneficial outcome, people need to inform themselves about the correct dose, the directions for use and the known side effects.

“Our research tells us that people who read this information spend about three minutes doing so,” she said.

“Our campaign aims to encourage more people to always take those three minutes whether they are taking medication themselves or giving it to someone in their care. If people have any questions or concerns, they should always consult their doctor or pharmacist,” she said.

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