Get to know your Medicines 9 September 2014 Both the CMI leaflet and the NPS website tell you: The trade and chemical names of your medication e.g., Glucophage is the prominent name on the packet and is the trade name, whereas metformin is the smaller name on the packet and is the chemical â€˜genericâ€™ name of the medication. How to use the medication Some medications are best taken immediately or several hours before or after food. If you take metformin, itâ€™s recommended that you take it with meals because sometimes metformin can cause gastric discomfort or nausea. If you take a bisphosphonate for osteoporosis, itâ€™s recommended you take it with plentiful water at least 30 minutes before breakfast and remain upright for that time to ensure the medication gets into your bloodstream before any food interferes with its absorption. Some medications require special storage conditions, e.g. if you take insulin, the insulin loses activity in extremes of temperature. Itâ€™s recommended you keep your stored insulin in a cool place (e.g. the fridge but not the freezer). The daily insulin you use is kept out of the fridge because it can be painful to inject cold insulin. There may be prescribed or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, foods or complementary medicines that should not be taken with your medication. If you take an anticoagulant or antiplatelet to reduce the risk of a blood clot, supplements such as fish oil or ginkgo herbal products may increase the anticlotting effect of your medication and put you at risk of excess bleeding. The medication’s uses e.g., irbesartan can be used to treat high blood pressure and also kidney damage (microalbuminuria) without high blood pressure. How it works e.g., simvastatin is a â€˜statinâ€™ that decreases the liverâ€™s production of cholesterol by, the bloodâ€™s level of â€œbadâ€ LDL cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes. Possible side effects There should be a list of the common side effects and how often these may occur. Other sources for more information are also listed. Itâ€™s important that you get to know more about your medicines: what they are, what theyâ€™re used for, how they work, etc. Each of your medicines has information available in its Consumerâ€™s Medicine Information (CMI) leaflet or from the National Prescribing Service NPS. The CMI is produced by the company that makes the medication and is available either with its packaging from your pharmacist or over the Internet, Therapeutic Goods Administration On the NPS website, you can type in the trade or chemical name of your medication and the database will provide lots of interesting information. Dr Pat Phillips, Editor-in-Chief of Conquest and Angela Close BPharm, is a community pharmacist. This article was originally published in Conquest Magazine published by Health Publishing Australia.