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Established in March 1998, NPS MedicineWise (known prior to 2009 as the National Prescribing Service) is an Australian not-for-profit organisation whose programs are funded by the national Department of Health. Since July 2012, the organisation has been officially known as NPS MedicineWise.

NPS MedicineWise
NPS Medicinewise brandmark.png
MottoWe’re for a medicinewise Australia. Independent. Not-for-profit. Evidence based.
Founded1998 (1998)
TypeNot for profit
FocusMedicines, medical tests
Area served
MethodEducational programs and professional development, public campaigns, publications
Formerly called
National Prescribing Service

NPS MedicineWise provides practical tools (such as medicines lists), evidence-based information, and educational activities, with the intention of improving the way health technologies, including how medicines and medical tests, are prescribed and used.



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

Since 2003, NPS MedicineWise has assumed a secondary mandate: promoting discussion of basic medicine-related issues in the community via consumer education programs and major award-winning campaigns, including Be Medicinewise Week, launched 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 has brought wide-ranging savings to the Australian health system,[2] critics have questioned the actual causes and ramifications of such savings.[3] However the savings reported by the organisation are comprehensively evaluated and accepted by government, demonstrating a clear correlation between NPS MedicineWise programs and improved prescribing.[4]

The organisation came under fire in mid-2010 for its decision to replace its telephone-line switch-board staff with nurses,[5] which sparked controversy over what many claimed was a desertion of the pharmacists whose interests the NPS MedicineWise claimed to serve.[6] In actual fact the change in service model saw an in-house 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 successEdit

In the period between 1998 and 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.[7]

NPS MedicineWise activities have generated substantial financial savings to the PBS, with the organisation claiming that its information and education campaigns have reduced unnecessary prescriptions and improved prescribing decisions within the medical community.[2] 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.[8]

NPS MedicineWise has also developed programs and resources to help consumers and health practitioners to discuss health issues[9] and improve the QUM within Australia.[10]


NPS MedicineWise works with consumers, healthcare professionals, government and industry to improve the health of all Australians through our targeted educational campaigns.[11]

  • Resistance Fighter provides information about antibiotics and urges all Australians to join the fight against antibiotic resistance by pledging online.[12]
  • Brand Choices educates the public about active ingredients and different medicine names, helping Australians be confident in talking about your options and choices.[13]
  • Why be medicinewise? campaign helps Australians be medicinewise by showing people how to weigh up the pros and cons of taking a medicine, helping to discuss side effects, benefits, and choices with a health professional and also help find good-quality information.[citation needed]


National Medicines Symposium (NMS)Edit

NMS is the pre-eminent quality use of medicines symposium held in Australia. Held every two years, the scientific program is designed to provide the latest and the controversial in the medicines and health environment and is delivered by international and nationally acclaimed experts.[14]

Current products & servicesEdit

Health professional learningEdit

NPS MedicineWise produces educational activities for general practitioners (GPs), pharmacists, nurses, and students, available online, individual face-to-face or group discussion. Participants are able to obtain continuing professional development (CPD) points.[15] Activities include case studies, clinical e-audits, online courses, educational visits, and pharmacy practice reviews.

Medicines LineEdit

A collaboration with healthdirect Australia, Medicines Line is a telephone service providing consumers with information on prescription, over-the-counter and complementary (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamin and mineral) medicines.[16]


A program that aims to improve understanding of GP prescribing behaviour. MedicineInsight collects and analyses anonymised patient data directly from Australian general practices to provide practice staff with detailed insight into their prescribing and clinical activity and where improvements might occur. MedicineInsight has collected information on over a million anonymous patient encounters from hundreds of practices and thousands of GPs Australia-wide. [17]

MedicineList+ smartphone appEdit

A free mobile app used to keep an up-to-date list of all the medicines a user takes, helping to get to know medicines, get better results from your medicines and enjoy better health. The app features reminders of how and when to take medicines, calendar alerts for refills, a barcode scanner to input medicines, and the ability to record details about your medical tests and results, and have your results graphed. [18]


NPS MedicineWise produces publications, articles and e-newsletters in print and electronic formats, all available free of charge.[19]

Consumer publications:

  • Medicinewise Living is a monthly e-newsletter to help you better manage your health and get the best from your medicines.
  • Medicines Update provides consumer-friendly information about new medicines recently added to the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
  • Medicines Talk is written by consumers for consumers, and offers reliable accurate information and useful hints on managing medicines.

Health professional publications:

  • Health News and Evidence articles inform health professionals with all the latest relevant health and medical information to help inform best practice.
  • Medicinewise News is 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 RADAR provide 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.
  • NPS Direct is a monthly e-newsletter keeping Australian health professionals and students up to date with succinct, evidence-based information about medicines, medical devices and current health topics.
  • Australian Prescriber is Australia's national independent journal of drugs and therapeutics. It is published every two months online.


  1. ^ "Our history". NPS MedicineWise.
  2. ^ a b Wallace,, Louise (4 March 2011). "NPS claims success in GPs prescribing less". Australian Doctor.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ O'Donoghue,, Nick (18 February 2014). "Improvements in prescribing creates savings: NPS". Pharmacy News.
  5. ^ Sweet, Melissa (9 July 2010). "What do nurses know about medicines anyway? - Croakey Health Blog". Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  6. ^ Batagol, Ron (7 July 2010). "That's no job for a nurse: switchboard". The Australian. Retrieved 18 March 2011.
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ Moulds R (2003). "Good prescribing: where to next?". MJA, 178:196-7. Available at
  9. ^ 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
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ "Campaigns and Events". NPS MedicineWise.
  12. ^ Cheng, Allen. "Long courses, confusion and culture: why we're losing the fight against antibiotic resistance". The Conversation. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  13. ^ "Pharmacy Daily" (PDF). June 24, 2013.
  14. ^ "National Medicines Symposium". NPS MedicineWise.
  15. ^ "Continuing professional development and learning". NPS MedicineWise.
  16. ^ "Medicines Line (1300 MEDICINE)". NPS MedicineWise.
  17. ^ "MedicineInsight". NPS MedicineWise.
  18. ^ "MedicineList+ app". NPS MedicineWise.
  19. ^ "Publications". NPS MedicineWise.

External linksEdit