NPS MedicineWise

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NPS MedicineWise
NPS Medicinewise brandmark.png
Type Not for profit
Founded 1998 (1998)
Area served Australia
Focus(es) Medicines, healthcare, health professionals, medical tests
Mission For all Australians to be medicinewise and experience the health and economic benefits this brings.
Method(s) Educational campaigns, professional development activities, publications
Motto We’re for a medicinewise Australia. Independent. Not-for-profit. Evidence based.
Formerly called National Prescribing Service

Established in March 1998, NPS MedicineWise (known prior to 2009 as the National Prescribing Service) is a non-profit organisation funded by the Government of Australia's Department of Health and Ageing. Since July 2012, the organisation has been officially known as NPS MedicineWise. NPS MedicineWise provides practical tools and evidence-based information about medicines, health conditions and medical tests.


NPS MedicineWise was founded in 1998 as part of an Australian Government shift in health policy to address issues around Quality Use of Medicines.[1] NPS MedicineWise' initial mandate was to reduce cost of medicines to Australia's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme by providing clinically reviewed independent information about medicines to doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals.[2] Many of these materials relate to new drugs or more complex grey-areas in the prescription process.[3]

NPS MedicineWise goals are to:

  • look at challenges and problems with the ways medicines are used or not used
  • help doctors with questions they may have about best practice
  • help people understand how to take their medicines safely and effectively, if a medicine is needed

Since 2003, NPS MedicineWise has assumed a secondary mandate of promoting discussion of basic medicine-related issues in the community via consumer education programs and major award-winning campaigns. It launched its "Be Medicinewise" campaign in January 2011. The campaign was broadcast across a wide spectrum of media channels and addressed common health issues such as lower back pain, antibiotics and the active ingredient of medicines.

Although NPS MedicineWise claims to have brought wide-ranging savings to the Australian health system,[4] critics have questioned the actual causes and ramifications of such savings.[5] However the savings reported by the organisation are comprehensively evaluated and accepted by government, demonstrating a clear correlation between NPS programs and improved prescribing. The organisation came under fire in mid-2010 for its decision to replace its telephone-line pharmacy staff with nurses,[6] which sparked controversy over what many claimed was a desertion of the pharmacists whose interests the NPS claimed to serve.[7][8] In actual fact the change in service model saw an inhouse service established which was staffed by NPS pharmacists, with all calls triaged by healthdirect Australia which is where the confusion about nurses replacing pharmacists stemmed from. Prior to this the Mater Hospital in Brisbane was subcontracted to provide the phone line service but this was changed to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of the service.

Historical success[edit]

In the period between 1998 to 2004, 90% of all GPs were actively involved in one or more educational activities run by NPS MedicineWise, while approximately sixty per cent of GPs and pharmacists rated the NPS' printed educational materials as good or very good.[9]

NPS MedicineWise activities have generated substantial financial savings to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, with the organisation claiming that its information and education campaigns have reduced unnecessary prescriptions and improved prescribing decisions within the medical community.[4] Various health professionals argue that, despite potential conflicts between cost-saving and the organisation's Quality Use of Medicines mandate, the NPS will continue to improve on the current PBS system.[10]

NPS MedicineWise has also developed programs and resources to help consumers and health practitioners to discuss health issues[11] and improve the QUM within Australia.[12]

Services run by NPS MedicineWise[edit]

Medicines Line[edit]

NPS MedicineWise runs Medicines Line, a phone information service operated by pharmacists. It provides consumers with access to information about prescription, over-the-counter and complementary (herbal/"natural"/vitamin/mineral) medicines.


NPS MedicineWise produces several publications for health professionals including:

  • Australian Prescriber: a bimonthly journal, first published in 1975. Previously, Australian health professionals submitted articles to the British Prescribers' Journal. AP was developed to provide a forum of discussion for issues relevant to Australian practice. It was published by the Australian Department of Health until NPS MedicineWise assumed responsibility for the journal in 2002.
  • Medicinewise News: a bimonthly newsletter, providing health professionals with up to date, succinct and independent information on therapeutic topics and related issues. It also offers evidence-based advice on quality prescribing and use of medical tests.
  • NPS Direct: a monthly e-newsletter for Australian health professionals, designed to keep health professionals up to date with the latest evidence on medicines, medical devices and current health topics.
  • NPS RADAR: provides health professionals with timely, independent evidence-based information on new drugs and medical tests and changes to listings on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, published three times a year.
  • eLearning @NPS: a digital newsletter containing news and updates about NPS online learning resources, published four times a year.

Publications for consumers include:

  • Medicinewise Living: free e-newsletter with ideas, tips and information to help you make good choices about your health.
  • Medicines Talk: free quarterly newsletter written by consumers for consumers, that offers reliable, accurate information and useful hints on managing your medicines.
  • Medicines Update: consumer-friendly information about new medicines recently added to the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Current campaigns[edit]

NPS Medicinewise works with consumers, healthcare professionals, government and industry to improve the health of all Australians through targeted educational campaigns[13]

  • Resistance Fighter: provides information about antibiotics and urges all Australians to join the fight against antibiotic resistance.
  • Why be medicinewise?: helping Australians get the best out of their medicines by showing you how to weigh up the pros and cons of taking a medicine, helping discuss side effects, benefits, and choices with your health professional and helping you find good-quality information.
  • Brand Choices: education about active ingredients and different medicine names, helping Australians be confident in talking about your options and choices


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Wallace,, Louise (4 March 2011). Australian Doctor |url= missing title (help). 
  5. ^ "You're joking. Nearly all the reduction in prescribing is because of the threat of Medicare investigating us for not being below the 50th percentile. Nothing to do with balanced education and practical advice to GPs." Dr. I-M Suspicioustoo.
  6. ^ Sweet, Melissa (9 July 2010). "What do nurses know about medicines anyway? - Croakey Health Blog". Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  7. ^ Batagol, Ron (7 July 2010). "That's no job for a nurse: switchboard". The Australian. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  8. ^ Roberts, Simone (5 July 2010). "Pharmacists dumped for nurses". Pharmacy e News. Retrieved 18 March 2011. 
  9. ^ Beilby J, Wutzke SE, Bowman J, Mackson JM, Weekes LM (2006). "Evaluation of a national QUM service in Australia: an evolving model." J Eval Clin Pract, 12:202-17
  10. ^ Moulds R (2003). "Good prescribing: where to next?". MJA, 178:196-7. Available at
  11. ^ Weekes LM, Mackson JM, Fitzgerald M, Phillips SR. NPS: creating an implementation arm for national medicines policy. Br J Clin Pharmacol 2005;59:112-116
  12. ^ Wutzke SE, Artist MA, Kehoe LA, Fletcher M, Mackson JM, Weekes LM. Evaluation of a national programme to reduce inappropriate use of antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections: effects on consumer awareness, beliefs, attitudes and behaviour in Australia. Health Promotion International 2007;22(1):53–64
  13. ^

External links[edit]