Taking Medicines Safely

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For the full benefit, take 3 minutes

When you are ill, taking a medicine can make a real difference. To take your medicine safely and effectively, always follow the directions for use and make sure you know the right dose. This information takes just a few minutes to read and will tell you exactly what you need to do to get the full benefit.

Of course if you have any questions or concerns about a medicine you are taking, always ask your health professional for advice.

Our advice on how to take medicines safely 

Our leaflet, which is in Plain English, highlights some key points to help you use medicines safely and effectively:

  • Before you start using your medicine: To get the full benefit from your medicine, it is important that you use it safely. We outline some precautions you should consider before you, or someone in your care, starts taking a medicine.
  • Taking your medicines: If you don’t take your medicine properly, it may be ineffective and cause more harm than good. We provide some tips to help you avoid common mistakes.
  • Storing your medicine: We advise on storage and also on what to do with any medicine that remains unused or is out‑of‑date.


We hope you find our advice and tips on using medicines helpful. However, it is important to remember that every medicine is different so always read the patient information provided on the product leaflet or packaging. It will give you very important information about the medicine you are taking including:

  • what the medicine is for.
  • how to take the medicine and recommended doses.
  • information on potential side effects.
  • when you should not take the medicine.
  • storage and the expiry date.


More Information and Advice

At the HPRA, we’ve published a number of other information and advice leaflets for patients and members of the public. If you take medicines yourself or help someone you care for to take them, then you might wish to read our advice on:

We have also published a number of leaflets for those who use medical devices.

To learn more about the HPRA, read about our role in protecting public and animal health.

All our leaflets can be downloaded (as pdf documents) and printed. Look out too for printed copies the next time you are in your GP waiting room.

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National Information Campaign

Learn more about our national information campaign to promote the safe use of medicines which first launched in September 2016.