AAM weeks

Previous Ask About Medicines Weeks

Ask About Medicines Week was an annual week of events which ran from 2003 – 8. The events themselves were led by individual partner organisations from PCOs, Hospital Pharmacies, Community Pharmacies and Voluntary Health Organisations.  Each year the week centred around a different area of concern.

Ask About Medicines Week 2008

3 – 7 November 2008

The focus for Ask About Medicines Week 2008 was people with mental health problems; supporting them to ask questions about their medicines – both medicines for mental health problems and medicines for other conditions.

The campaign theme was Asking About Medicines If You Have A Mental Health Problem and targetted the public, carers and health professionals. These were the key messages for the campaign:

Messages for Public:

  • For most people with mental health problems, medicines have a part to play in the process of recovery.
  • All medicines can have short or long term side effects, so it’s essential to work out which ones suit each person best.
  • Always ask questions about your medicines so that you can make better informed choices.
  • Carers supporting people with mental health problems should also have the opportunity to ask questions and get information about medicines.

Messages for Health Professionals:

  • For most people with mental health problems, medicines have a part to play in the process of recovery.
  • Encouraging your patients to make informed decisions about their medicines can help to ensure that they take them, thus reducing relapse and waste.
  • Although most people with mental health problems have the capacity to weigh up treatment choices, they may need special encouragement and support to ask questions about medicines. This applies to medicines they are taking for physical ailments too.
  • Carers supporting people with mental health problems also need the opportunity to ask questions and get information about medicines.

For Pharmacists:

  • Medicines Use Review can be an effective tool to help people with mental health problems cope with side effects and get the most out of their medicines.

Ask About Medicines Week 2007

This will be the fifth national Ask About Medicines Week and will run from 5 to 9 November 2007. Ask About Medicines Week provides a focus for publicity and activities, and launches a year of work to promote the chosen theme- this year, Asking About Medicines As We Grow Up.

We have some exciting initiatives planned for this year targeting children and young people.


The theme of Asking About Medicines As We Grow Up will form the cornerstone of all communications, supported by key messages aimed at children and young people, and messages aimed at health professionals and parents. The key messages for this year’s campaign are:

Children & Young People:

  • Knowing more about medicines helps you safely take control of your health
  • There are always people you can turn to for help and support with your medicines
  • Ask about medicines

Healthcare Professionals & Parents:

  • Knowing more about medicines helps children and young people safely take control of their health
  • Health professionals and parents need to help children and young people to understand their medicines
  • Ask children and young people what they want to know about their medicines

Our key messages are also supported by a campaign message which explains about Ask About Medicines:

Ask About Medicines is the independent campaign to increase people’s involvement in decisions about their use of medicines

Ask About Medicines Week 2006

This year’s Ask About Medicines Week ran from 6th to 10th November; the theme being Asking About  Medicines As We Get Older.

We have pulled together a project team with stakeholders to develop plans for this year’s campaign and have agreed the following key messages:

  • As we get older we take more medicines
  • Asking questions about medicines helps us to use them safely and effectively
  • Some people, particulary those in the oldest age groups, need to be encouraged to ask questions about their medicines
  • Confusion about medicines can lead to inappropriate use of medicines, which is potentially dangerous to patients and costly to the NHS

Organisations Involved in the Asking About Medicines as You Get Older Project Group:

  • Alzheimer’s Society
  • National Osteoporosis Society
  • International Glaucoma Association
  • Diabetes UK
  • Long-term Medical Conditions Alliance
  • British Lung Foundation
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain
  • Age Concern England
  • Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee
  • Parkinson’s Disease Society
  • Carers UK
  • Association of Directors of Social Services
  • NHS Direct


Ask About Medicines Week 2005

Theme and Messages

The theme for the week will build on the core brand by emphasising a clear, central message of Ask.

The key messages that will form the cornerstone of all communications reinforce the central theme of Ask. Ask About Medicines aims to encourage better communication between people and their healthcare professionals:

  • Asking questions enables people to make better informed choices about taking medicines
  • If people ask questions about medicines they are more likely to use them safely and effectively
  • We want to see more healthcare professionals encouraging people to ask questions about medicines and other options

We have updated the original Ask About Medicines questions and will now be using the following:

  • WHAT does this medicine do?
  • WHY is it important that I take this medicine? Are there any other treatment options?
  • WHEN and how should I take it?
  • HOW long should I take it for?
  • WHAT should I be aware of when taking this medicine? (eg. possible risks, side effects, taking medicines with certain foods/drinks/activities, what to do if I don’t feel well while I am taking it, how to store it safely etc)
  • WHERE can I go for more information?

We will be promoting these questions and hope you will find them useful in any local campaigns you may be running during Ask About Medicines Week.

Ask About Medicines Safety

Ask About Medicines Week is a good time to highlight safe use of medicines. Ask About Medicines supports the Department of Health in their aim to:

  • Raise awareness amongst the general public of the importance of safe storage and possession of medicines in the home;
  • Reduce the number of incidents causing adverse outcomes because of inappropriate storage;
  • Ensure that all unwanted medicines are returned to a pharmacy for disposal; and
  • Reduce risks to public health and to the environment resulting from inappropriate disposal in the home.

In your Ask About Medicines Week activities we encourage you to promote the following messages:

  • All medicines have the potential to cause harm if not used appropriately or if used other than by the person for whom they are intended.
  • All medicines should be stored safely and securely.
  • Unwanted medicines should be returned to a community pharmacy or the dispensing doctor’s surgery for safe disposal because disposing of medicines at home could result in harm to the environment.

Top-line Evaluation of Ask About Medicines Week 2005 (PPT slides)

Ask About Medicines Week 2004

Ask About Medicines Week 2004 ran from 1-6 November, the theme for the week was choice.

There were three key messages:

1. Everyone is entitled to be involved in deciding whether a medicine is right for them

  • Choice should be for everyone, not just for people who are already well equipped to exercise it
  • Involvement in deciding about medicines must not become an obligation: some people won’t want to be involved, or will want different kinds of involvement at different times
  • For some, the right choice might be no medicine

2. Everyone should be able to get good information to make decisions about medicines, from the source they choose

  •  “Everyone” includes people traditionally at a disadvantage, facing disability or language barriers
  • Good quality information means reliable, practical information from a known source, accessible to its users
  • A choice of information sources is important to patients. One size doesn’t fit all; patients want to be able to weigh up different sources

3. Health care professionals need to help people make choices, and we support them in that

  • We encourage health care professionals working in partnership with patients, finding out what their support needs are
  • We recognise this is not easy Government training and support will be useful adjuncts
  • Peer support can also be valuable: many professionals find that this saves time and makes work more rewarding

Evaluation report: Ask About Medicines Week 2004

Ask About Medicines Week 2003

The first Ask About Medicines Week ran from 12 to 18 October 2003.  Its aim was to lay the foundation for lasting change by:

  • Giving people opportunity to ask questions about medicines and encouraging better communication between health prefessionals and people taking medicine
  • Influencing expectations so that asking questions about medicines becomes the norm
  • Acting as a catalyst to improve the depth and quality of medicines information.

There was a broad and deep commitment to the Week with 399 partners signing up to support the campaign including:

  • 150 PCTs
  • 100 pharmacy organisations
  • 100 voluntary health organisations
  • A wide range of professional bodies and private sector organisations interested in health care

Ask About Medicines Week 2003: evaluation briefing