Managing medicines

The person with cancer you are caring for may be taking non-prescription and prescription medicines.

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?

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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.

Carers in Australia

About 12% of Australians are unpaid family carers who provide care to someone with a disability or illness. These carers make a valuable contribution to the community.

The Carer Recognition Act 2010 (Commonwealth) states that carers should have:

  • recognition and respect
  • access to appropriate information that makes it easier to get support
  • economic security and the opportunity to do paid work
  • access to appropriate services
  • the skills to do their role and the opportunity to have formal education and training
  • improved wellbeing and health, and the capacity to participate in community life.

Each state and territory government has also passed their own Acts and policies.

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