One in eight 'take medicine they were not prescribed'
One in eight people have taken medicine that was not prescribed for them, health watchdogs have revealed.
The research also uncovered the figure rises to one in five for people aged 25 to 34.
The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), which regulates medicines, medical devices and other health products, urged people to make themselves aware of the risks of prescribed treatments including the need to take the correct dose and know the side-effects.
Its survey of consumer habits and attitudes found almost a quarter of people do not read the information notes or the directions for use that come with their prescriptions.
It also found o ne in five patients take a prescription medicine for a shorter period than their doctor advised them.
Health Minister Simon Harris, who supports the information campaign, said it should only take three minutes to take in advice on using medicine.
"It is extremely important for anyone taking a medicine that they carefully read the instructions for use," he said.
"This information is provided with every medicine and following the instructions will ensure that patients get the best results. It only takes three minutes to make sure you're fully informed, and that you're doing the right thing for your own health and peace of mind."
Lorraine Nolan, chief executive of the HPRA, said: " Our research tells us that people who read this information spend about three minutes doing so.
"Our campaign aims to encourage more people to always take those three minutes whether they are taking medication themselves or giving it to someone in their care. If people have any questions or concerns, they should always consult their doctor or pharmacist."
The survey also found more and more patients not reading information about their medication - up from 12% since the same survey was carried out in 2010.
The HPRA said just over a quarter of adults admit to never reading notes for over-the-counter medicine, up from 14% six years ago.
Ms Nolan added: "Even if someone is taking a specific medicine regularly over a long period of time we would recommend they still read the product information on a regular basis.
"Significant details such as the contraindications or potential side effects can change from time to time so it is important that those on long-term medication keep themselves informed."