Medicine reviews

Key points about medicine reviews

  • Taking lots of different medicines can be complicated.
  • A meeting with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist to talk about and review your medicines can be helpful in explaining why, how and when to take them.
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Poster about rongoa medicine review and why it's useful


Image credit: University of Otago, NZ

A medicine review is a review of all the medicines you're taking. This includes:

  • prescription medicines
  • over-the-counter medicines
  • supplements or natural remedies
  • rongoā Māori.

It involves meeting with a doctor, nurse or pharmacist to talk about all of your medicines. This information is used to check that you're taking the most appropriate medicines and that you know how to take them safely. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions about your medicines and talk about any concerns you have. It's a good idea to have your medicines reviewed every year. 

During your appointment your healthcare provider can help you to create a medicine list, or if you already have a medicine list they can check it and make sure it's up-to-date. Read more about medicine lists.

  • It's really helpful for you and your whānau who are taking a lot of medicines.
  • Things can change from when you were first prescribed a medicine.
  • You might have a new health condition, lost or gained weight, or developed a side effect.
  • You might have started taking a supplement or medicine you bought from the supermarket or over the counter from the pharmacy, that could interact with a prescribed medicine.
  • There might be some new medicines available that would be better for you.
  • You might want to be reminded about what each medicine is for and how to take it.

Getting your medicines reviewed is especially helpful if you take lots of medicines, or have medicines prescribed by different doctors. It can also be helpful if you:

  • are not sure why you take some of your medicines
  • have recently been in hospital and some medicines may have changed
  • start a new medicine or feel unwell after taking medicines
  • don’t always remember to take your medicines
  • think your medicines are not working for you or are concerned about your medicines or side effects.

You can also get help with how to use medical devices, eg, inhalers, spacers, eye drops, blister packs, testing kits or meters.

You will need to make an appointment with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to review your medicines. In some areas this is a free service, otherwise a cost may apply. They will tell you how to prepare for your appointment but here are some general pointers.

How to prepare for a medicines review

  • Take all your medicines to your appointment – including pills, capsules, ointments, inhalers, over-the-counter medicines, supplements or natural remedies and rongoā Māori.
  • Think about any changes you might have experienced with how you're feeling. Be ready to describe these clearly.
  • Write down any concerns/questions about your medicines.
  • If you want to, ask someone from your whānau or a support person to come with you.

Look at the links to brochures below for some more tips on how to prepare for a medicines review. 

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Healthify He Puna Waiora. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland & Jo Hilder, Kairangahau/Senior Research Fellow, Department of Primary Health Care and General Practice, University of Otago Wellington

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