How to Take Medication Safely


Medication makes the quality of our lives better in many ways. It can help cure or treat an illness or disease and can also prevent some conditions from developing in the first place. In this way, medicines can help us live longer and lead healthier lives when we are feeling poorly. The Health Products Regulation Authority have released a pamphlet on how to take medication safely.

There are two main kinds of medications that we all take at some point in our lives: medicines that are only available through prescription from a doctor and over the counter (OTC) medicines that are available without the need for a prescription.


Before you start using medication:

Before you start taking your medicine, it is important to consider the following to ensure that you are using the medication safely:

  • Use the same doctor and pharmacist if possible. This helps to build a patient medical history between yourself and your health care provider.
  • Make your doctor or pharmacist aware of any other medicines that you may be taking including herbal medicine. Some medication could react with others if taken together, so it is important that your health care provider is aware of this to ensure that you aren’t at a health risk.
  • Let your doctor or pharmacist know if you have scheduled surgery, if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy, or if you are breastfeeding. These factors could affect the type of medication that you are allowed to take.
  • Make sure that you have been given the correct medicine before you leave the pharmacy.
  • Always read the package leaflet that comes with medicine. If there is any information that you are unsure of or don’t understand, get in contact with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Take your medicine at the same time every day and always finish the recommended course unless you are told otherwise by your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you are travelling, make sure that you carry enough of your medicine with you.
  • If you have been taking medication for a long period of time, ask your doctor or pharmacist to review them once a year.


Generic Medication

Some pharmacists may offer you a generic version of a well known brand-name over the counter medicine. There is no difference between a brand name medicine and the generic version of that medication. They both contain the same active ingredient and have the same effect as the brand name version. If you have any questions about taking generic medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist.


Taking Medication

It is extremely important when you are taking medication to ensure that you are taking it properly. Here are some good tips to follow:

  • Never take more than the recommended dose. Make sure to read the label on your medication to find out the recommended daily dose.
  • Don’t take any medication that is out of date. This can be a health risk. It is better to go to a pharmacist and buy new, up to date medication.
  • If you happen to miss a tablet, check the leaflet or speak with your health care provider for advice on what steps to take.
  • Only stop taking a course of medication if a doctor or pharmacist tells you. Otherwise, take the medicine for the recommended course.
  • Never share medicine with others or take medicine that was prescribed for somebody else.
  • If you are taking prescriptive medication, check with your pharmacist whether it is alright to take over the counter medicine at the same time.
  • Consumption of alcohol can interact with some medicines. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if it is alright for you to drink alcohol while you are on the medication.
  • If you experience any unexpected side effects, don’t ignore them! Contact your doctor or pharmacist immediately.


For more information on how to take and store medication safely and to read the HPRA pamphlet in full, follow this link. If you have any questions about taking prescription, OTC or generic medicine please call in store where one of our staff will be more than happy to help you and provide you with the advice that you need.