Study the medications you take

Study the medications you take.

Photo: Study the medications you take.

National Prescribing Service (NPS) has updated its online Medicine Name Finder with a new feature to help consumers make choices between medicine brands.

Designed to help people find important information about their prescription medicines, the tool has a quick and easy-to-use interface where users can type in the name of their medicine to find out more about the active ingredient and brands available.

This new feature enables users to type in either the active ingredient or brand name of their medicine and, after selecting their prescribed dose, view a list of bioequivalent PBS-listed brands which they may be offered at the pharmacy.

NPS chief executive, Dr Lynn Weekes, says the new feature will help consumers identify the different brands available for their medicine, helping them to make a safe and confident choice.

“When the active ingredient of a medicine comes off patent, the number of available brands can quickly increase. This can be confusing, so it’s important people know that if the medicine they are offered has the same active ingredient and the same size dose as their original medicine, and if it will work the same in their body,” she says.

Using the Medicine Name Finder, people can quickly see a list of the different equivalent brands available so they can be sure they are taking the right medicine and avoid confusion.

Dr Weekes says with the patent for Lipitor – a commonly-prescribed cholesterol medicine – expiring, a number of different brands will now be available in addition to Lipitor. It’s likely many people will be offered a different brand of medicine than the one they were originally prescribed, and may have been taking for some time.

“For people who take medicines regularly, it can be confusing if they are suddenly offered a different brand by their pharmacist. The brand name, the design of the packaging and even the colour or size of the tablets, may all look different.

“They may also find the new brand costs less. But none of these factors are cause for alarm. You will only be offered a different brand of medicine if the active ingredient and the strength are the same or ‘bioequivalent’.”

Bioequivalence is the term used to describe the fact it has been approved as having same effect in your body.

Click here to view the NPS Medicine Name Finder.