Managing medicines

The person with cancer may be taking non-prescription and prescription medicines. As a carer, you may need to keep track of these medicines.

Learn more about:

Knowing the answers to the following questions can help save time and confusion:

  • What are the names of the drugs and what are they for?
  • How much should be given and when?
  • How should the drugs be given (with or without food, etc.)?
  • Is there anything, such as alcohol or driving, that should be avoided while taking the medicines?
  • Do the drugs interact with other drugs or vitamin supplements or any other over-the-counter medicines?
  • Are there any possible side effects? What should I do if the person experiences side effects?
  • How long will the medicines be needed?
  • What should I do if a dose is missed?
  • When is the use-by date, and where can you find it on the medicine packaging?
  • How should the drugs be stored?

Listen to podcasts on Cancer Affects the Carer Too and How to Help Someone with Cancer

Help from the pharmacist

The pharmacist can provide a written list of all the person’s medicines and when they should be taken, and/or can prepare a blister pack (e.g. Webster-pak) that arranges all the doses that need to be taken throughout the week. The pharmacist can also keep the person’s prescriptions on file to make it easy to get repeats made up.

The medicines list

A medicines list can help you keep track of any medicines. It can also help health professionals understand which ones are being used – especially important in an emergency.

You can create your own list on paper or on a computer. You can also download the MedicineWise app from the App Store or Google Play onto your smartphone. This lets you scan the barcode on packaging to add a medicine to the app, record dosages, and set alarms to remind you to give each medicine at the right time.

To find out more about medicines, visit or call Medicines Line on 1300 633 424.

Applying for a PBS Safety Net card

Through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), the Australian Government subsidises the cost of many medicines. In addition, you can apply for the PBS Safety Net card once you have spent a certain amount on medicines during the calendar year.

You can track what you spend on PBS medicines on a Prescription Record Form (available from pharmacists). If you use the same pharmacist, you can ask them to keep a computer record instead.

Once you’ve spent the threshold amount, your pharmacist can give you a Safety Net card and your PBS medicines will then be cheaper or free for the rest of that year. To find out more, call 132 290 or go to Department of Human Services and search for “PBS safety net”.

View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Support for carers
Cancer Council NSW offers support online, over the phone and in person and can link you to our practical support services

Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono services, financial and legal assistance, and no interest loans

Cancer information

What is cancer?
How cancer starts and spreads

Caring for someone with advanced cancer
Discussing wishes and coping with grief

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends