How much do you know about the medicines you are taking?

Dr Ian Larson of Monash University talks about the free online course, ‘The Science of Medicines’ which starts on 1 September 2014 on

The Science of Medicines

Many of us take medicine regularly or know someone who does. Elderly people can quite often be on 5, 6, 7 or more tablets, some taken once a day, some twice.  If we want to get the most benefit from the medicines we take, we need to take them as instructed and it helps to understand why.

How does a medicine stop pain? Do you know why some tablets need to be taken twice a day and some only once a day?  Why do some medicines have side effects?  In this course, my team and I delve into the answers to these questions and explain them in language that everyone will be able to understand. We will explain the chemistry of the drugs and how they were developed, the biology of our body and what the drug actually does to it, how the form of the medicine itself is designed with all this in mind, and how pharmacists, doctors, allied health professionals, and family and carers work together to assist people with the management of their medicines.

To answer every question, however, would take far longer than this course runs for, so we have decided to concentrate on five of most important health issues around: heart disease, diabetes, pain, smoking, and depression.

Category Learning
How often do you take medicine?

How often do you take medicine?

Do you know about the drugs you take?

Find out more here

Comments (6)


  • Ibrahim

    How is that possible for one to have a certificate after concluded the course

  • Khadija

    I am thrilled to see that this cause is available. However, I would like to ask how the certificate be given to the person who takes part in this course about medicines if they were to succeed.

    Thank You

  • Ian Kemp

    Interested . I am a sceptical but well informed re the bio reductive approach to illness and health particularly so called mental illness, which are really social phenomena, not biological illnesses.
    background retired psychologist . many years ago worked for 8 years for drug industry . Degrees in Biochemistry and neurobiology Psychology and sociology

    • Liz Hayto

      I have to disagree that all mental illnesses are social phenomena. I am not an expert in the field but I am highly experienced in the symptoms and effects, as a sufferer ( now recovered). The effects can be very physical, and the beneficial effects of medication can be dramatic. I’m sure these issues will be covered in the relevant section of the upcoming course, but I had to challenge this bald statement.

    • tak ho

      I cannot agree with Liz more. While there is an element of truth in certain mental disease (such as obsessive compulsive disorder), most of mental illnesses cannot be explained on a physical (rather than psychological basis). Schizophrenia, biopolar disorder, depression are due to imbalance of neurotransmitter such as serotonin, noradrenaline. Alzhemier is due to formation of amyloid protein. Again ADHD is due to neurotransmitter imbalance. My background pharmacologist

      • Sue Jones

        Hi everyone I do think that mental illnes is caused mainly by our social environment. Our social environment can cause biological and psychological changes that cause us distress.