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Common myths about medicines

Pharmacists are highlighting some of the common myths about medicine. They say many of us are taking needless risks because we dont understand how drugs work.

New research by the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) for Ask Your Pharmacist Week (7-13th November) shows that:

  • 20% think drug detox is good idea - one in five thinks that it can be beneficial to give your body a medicines ‘detox’, by occasionally stopping taking your regular medicines for a long term medical condition. Not smart. Doing this can seriously impair health and for someone with diabetes, asthma or depression, the results can be very dangerous indeed.
  • 33% think it's OK to use other people's drugs - nearly a third of people think it is OK to take non-prescription medicines that have been specifically recommended for someone else. Not at all. This can be dangerous, even with common cough and cold remedies. (Others think that it is OK to give adult medication to a child, so long as the dosage is reduced – another incorrect and potentially dangerous belief.)
  • 25% wrong about aspirin - a quarter thinks that aspirin is just a weaker version of Ibuprofen. It's not. And for some people, making the wrong selection of pain killer risks har.
  • 50% think vaccine cause flu - half the of people surveyed think the flu vaccine can cause flu. It doesn't. This is a longstanding myth that could stop some people who are in ‘at-risk’ categories from getting protection.
  • 10% never check date - Millions of us could be using out of date medications. One in ten admits to never checking that medicines are still in date. Bad move. Medicines can become increasingly less effective once they pass their expiry date.

'There is a lot of misunderstanding about how medicines work in your body,' said Leyla Hannbeck of the NPA. 'It’s important to get the right treatment and the right advice – which you can get from your local pharmacy, often without an appointment. Most pharmacies now have consultation areas where you can sit down and talk with the pharmacist without being overheard.

Pharmacy is for men too

'Ask any questions you may have, no matter how trivial you think they are. When you go into your local pharmacy, remember you can access a package of care there, not just packets of pills. There is expert health and wellbeing advice and a range of services that you might not even know are there.'

  • The NHS is trying to promote use of phramacy for people with long-term conditions such as asthma, COPD, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure through the New Medicine Service.
  • For more information on using your pharmacy effectively visit
  • The video below outlines pharmacy services for men:

Page created on November 8th, 2011

Page updated on November 8th, 2011