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Ask About Medicines Week Briefing 2003

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Ask About Medicines Week (AAMW) is a UK wide event to be held 12-18 October 2003.
It will encourage medicines users to take an active role in their healthcare by discussing the safe and effective use of their medicines with a range of health care professionals.
The event is made possible through the unique consortium of the pecmi working group (, the Task Force on Medicines Partnership ( and the Doctor Patient Partnership (
AAMW will enable people to make better use of medicines by
  • Increasing people's understanding of their medicines
  • Creating more opportunities to ask questions and raise concerns about medicines
  • Encouraging health professionals to help medicine users ask questions about their medicines
  • Helping medicine users to get involved in decisions about medicine taking
  • Improving access to further sources of helpful, reliable medicines advice and information
AAMW will lay the foundation for lasting change by improving the depth and quality of medicines information, encouraging better communication between health professionals and people taking medicine, and changing expectations so that asking questions about medicines becomes the norm.
How AAMW benefits its stakeholders
Medicines users and the public will gain:
  • more opportunities to discuss medicine taking
  • easy access to new sources of helpful, reliable medicines advice and information
  • confidence that health professionals will listen to their medicines stories and that their questions will be answered
  • by having their views and preferences taken into account in prescribing decisions
  • better relationships with health professionals
  • greater understanding and safer use of medicines
Professional benefits include:
  • better understanding of medicine users' views and preferences
  • easy access to new sources of helpful, reliable medicines information for users
  • direct feedback on people's medicines experiences
  • better prescribing decisions and increased ability to prescribe medicines that meet their users' needs
  • better relationship with medicine users, and improved awareness of their communication needs
  • potentially better compliance, improved outcomes and greater satisfaction with care.
NHS benefits include:
  • greater patient-professional partnership and public involvement in the NHS
  • higher quality prescribing
  • better use of medicines as resources
  • safer medicine taking.
Industry benefits include:
  • increased and more positive awareness of medicines among public and professionals
  • better understanding of the end user's medicine needs
  • safer and more effective use of medicines.
Working together
  • AAMW has already gained support from a broad range of organisations from Government to the pharmaceutical industry.
  • AAMW is committed to continuing to involve all its partners and sponsors in the development of the campaign.
Project management
AAMW will comprise a co-ordinated series of events taking place under a central umbrella. The dissemination strategy will utilise a "hub and spoke" model: a project manager working to the AAMW Executive group will co-ordinate messages and media packs at the centre. A wide range of partner organisations will run related activities, using their own distribution channels and networks to increase our reach and spread the message.
AAMW Core activities
  • Medicines card: ask the right questions
    A handy card with key questions to ask about your medicines, distributed through GPs, pharmacies, supermarkets and walk-in centres with the support of the NPSA
  • Face to face advice
    Programmes in community pharmacies (handouts, posters) to encourage consumers to seek advice, with the support of the main pharmacy bodies
  • Local activities in pharmacies and general practice
    A starter kit with AAMW cards and information will be distributed to pharmacies, GP surgeries and individual health professionals (posters and leaflets) with the help of PSNC
  • Using the internet
    People with questions about their medicines or who want further information on AAMW via the internet can use the AAMW web site or turn to NHS Direct Online. NHS Direct Online will feature the week on its website including information, games, links and e-mail enquiries
  • Using the telephone
    The week will include a confidential telephone helpline, filling the gap left by standard services
  • Media campaigns (national and local)
    Features and articles in a wide range of consumer and professional media. Chat shows about medicines use, using VHO and professional spokespeople. Media activity will focus on the following theme areas:
 Monday 13th October 2003  Babies and children
 Tuesday 14th  Women's health including
 Wednesday 15th  People with mental health problems
 including depression 
 Thursday 16th  Men's health and medicines
 Friday 17th  Older people and medicines
 Saturday 18th  People living with long-term / 
 chronic illness, including HIV,
 diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and
  • Patient and professional surveys
    Surveys will measure attitudes and opinions before and after the week
Clearly, many aspects will also be suggested by contributing organisations.
Contact Details
  • Alison Pettifer, AAMW Project Co-ordinator,
    tel: 020 7572 2468
  • Kristin McCarthy, AAMW Executive and Director, Doctor Patient Partnership, tel: 020-7383-6803