Quality Use of Medicine

Definition

Quality use of medicine (QUM) involves:

  • Selection of management options wisely (treatment with or without medicine) either by healthcare practitioner or individual (consumer).
  • If a medicine (includes prescription, non prescription and complementary medicine) is necessary, a suitable medicine should be chosen.
  • To get the best possible results, the medicine should be used safely and effectively.

Objective

To make the best possible use of medicines so as to improve health outcomes.

As a consumer/patient, you are responsible to:

  1. Ask for and use information, resources and services.
  2. Be aware of the risks and benefits of medicines, non drug options and healthy lifestyle.
  3. Develop skills and seek help to solve problems related to the use of medicines.
  4. Be aware of the place of the medicines in your health
  5. Tell your doctor/pharmacist all medicines taken and your current health condition (including pregnancy, plan to become pregnant and nursing status). 

In achieving quality use of medicine, you should be able to ask these questions and get satisfactory answers.

1) Is it necessary for me to take the medicine?

There must be an appropriate reason for you to take any medicines. This is because there may be better ways than medicine to manage many disorders. Medicines should be used to cure or arrest disease, relieve symptoms, ease pain, correct deficiency diseases and provide other benefits. 

Other management options (treatment with or without medicine) should be discussed with your doctor or pharmacist.

2) How do I take the medicine?

Follow the instruction that has been written on the label or as instructed by your doctor/pharmacist.

3) Where can I get the medicine?

You can get your medicines from the hospital, pharmacy, health centre and clinic. Do not get your medicine from unauthorized personnel.
You need to be cautious when buying medicines and supplements online or from non-pharmacy sources as it put you at risk of getting the wrong, contaminated and counterfeit product.

4) What should I know about the medicine?

  • The name of the medicine
  • Active ingredients
  • The purpose of the medicine
  • How much, how often and how long to take it
  • How the medicine should be used or taken
  • Possible side effects and what to do if you have them
  • Special warnings or instructions about the medicine (take before bedtime or with meals, etc)
  • Expiry date
  • Storage conditions 

5) How to store the medicine?

Proper storage is important to assure the quality and therapeutic properties of the medicines are maintained. Here are some guides on how to store your medicines:

  • Store all of your medications in a designated location in your house.
  • Do not mix different medicines together in one container.
  • Medicines should be stored in a cool, dry area.
  • Medicines stored in refrigerator should be separated from other items in the refrigerator and label as medicines.
  • Oral medicines should be kept separate from other items that are for external use only.
  • Expired medicines and any medicine that your doctor has discontinued should be discarded.
  • Never share or give your medicines to another person.
  • Make sure your medicines are stored out of children's reach.
  • If a drug is not stored in its original container, make sure that it is labeled properly i.e. for whom, drug name, dosage, frequency and expiry date.
  • Do not leave your medicine in an automobile for long period of time. 

6) Can I stop taking the medication when I feel healthy?

No, you have to discuss this matter with your doctor/pharmacist. Compliance towards your medication is very important in order to get full benefit from it. Noncompliance may result in treatment failure.

7) What if I missed my medications?

Many people forget to take their medications. Whether to take a missed dose depends on the medicine. In some cases, it may be appropriate to take the missed dose as soon as you remember. In other cases, it may be too close to the time you need to take your next dose. If you are not sure what to do, get advice from your doctor/pharmacist.

Memory aids such as pillbox and marking on a daily calendar can help you to remember when to take the medicines.

8) What if I feel uncomfortable after taking the medicines?

Consult with your doctor/pharmacist. You may experience side effects or you are allergic to the medicines. Drug interaction may also contribute to this condition.

9) Where can I get more information about my medicines?

Consult with your doctor/pharmacist. You can get a lot of information from various websites on the internet but you must verify the information with your doctor/pharmacist.

10) If I have trouble to swallow, is there any alternatives to take the medicines?

You should tell your doctor/pharmacist of your problem. Dosage forms of medicine can be changed if available (eg. tablet to liquid formulation, gel, suppository or patch).

There are various types of dosage forms of medicines. The difference between each dosage form depend on where it works in our body, how fast it acts, for whom it is designed (eg. children may need liquid formulation or chewable tablets), how frequent it should be taken and specific disease states.

11) Is there a possibility that I may be taking the same medicine from different clinics / hospital?

Yes. Medicines may be prescribed by its brand or generic name. That is why it is very important for you to know the active ingredient in that medicine. This will be referred to as the generic name by healthcare providers. It also helps to know the dose of medicine to be taken, as to avoid overdosing or toxicity.

You can ask your doctor/pharmacist the generic name of your medicine when in doubt.

12) Is it safe to take other herbal medicines and other dietary supplements together with the prescribed medicines?

Many herbals and dietary supplements are made from natural ingredient, and many people think that they are safer than medicines. However, not many of these supplements have been tested when taken together with other prescribed medicines. Therefore, any side effects or drug interaction may not be documented and safety data cannot be established.

There are two myths that need to be addressed. First, once the natural or herbal ingredient has been made into tablets or capsules, it is no longer natural because other ingredients such as lactose or starch are added to make the final product. Second, herbs may contain very potent substance such as opium, curare and ephedrine. And they can kill!

Consult with your doctor/pharmacist before taking any herbals and supplementary medicines.

13) How should I take my medicines during fasting month (Ramadhan)?

In some cases, the new dosage regimen to be used during Ramadhan needs to be established beforehand. Dosage regimen of medicine can be changed to suite your need (eg. once daily dose is more suitable than three times daily dose as it can be taken anytime).

Discuss with your doctor/pharmacist your medicines regimen during Ramadhan as they can advice you when to take your medicines (before, during or after food intake).