Medicines (also referred to as medications, drugs or pharmaceuticals) are substances that are taken to treat or prevent symptoms of an illness or medical condition. They can come in a variety of forms such as tablets, capsules, liquids, creams, drops, inhalers or patches. Medicines include those prescribed by your doctor as well as over-the-counter medicines from the pharmacy or supermarket, complementary and alternative medicines, herbal remedies, vitamins and other supplements.

Understanding your medicines

It is important to be informed about the medicines you are taking. Being aware of the medicines you are taking will help you to make better decisions affecting your health. This will help you to understand if particular medicines are right for you, or if you may be able to make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce your medicines use:

When you are prescribed or provided a medicine you are unfamiliar with you should discuss with your doctor and/or pharmacist. It is often useful to ask for a Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) leaflet (where available) and discuss this information with your doctor or pharmacist. In addition, you can speak to your GPs about referring you to a pharmacist for a Home Medicines Review to make sure you are getting the best from your medicines:

Medicines information

You can find reliable information about medicines on the NPS MedicineWise website by searching by medicine name or the condition being treated. The website contains latest evidence-based information and resources for both health professionals and consumers and includes the CMIs for most prescription and some non-prescription medicines.

Remember, it is important to discuss any concerns in relation to your medicines with your pharmacist and/or doctor.

Going to hospital? What you need to know about your medicines 

If you are going into hospital you should bring your current medicines and a list of all the medicines you are taking with you to assist staff in ensuring that you get right medicines when you are in hospital. For more information on what medicines you need to take to hospital, see the Bringing your medicines to hospital page.

When you are discharged from hospital, your medicines will be reviewed and hospital staff will tell you which medicines you should take when you return home. For more information, see the Leaving hospital? What to know about your medicines page.

We encourage you to talk to your health care team about the medicines you are being offered. By talking to your health care team, you will be able to make the best choice for you. See My Medicine, My Choice brochure (PDF 202KB) for some tips on what you can talk about.


For more information about medicines please contact you pharmacist or doctor. Alternatively, you may call the Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424).

If you have concerns about an overdose or suspected poisoning, call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26

If you would like information on SA Health medicines initiatives please visit the QUM web page.


NPS MedicineWise

SA Health website