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Sharing Prescriptions Can Bring Harm, Not Healing
Date:11/11/2009

One in four who borrowed a medication experienced a side effect, researchers report

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Sharing prescription medication with a family member or friend who needs care may seem like the right thing to do, even an act of kindness. But new research highlights the potential hazards of passing these medicines around.

Of people who borrowed a medicine prescribed for someone else, 25.1 percent experienced some sort of side effect, researchers reported Wednesday at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in Philadelphia.

While 77.3 percent of prescription borrowers said they had bummed medicine rather than see a health-care provider, for many it merely delayed the inevitable. That's because one in three ended up seeking medical care, anyway.

A lot of people have focused on "recreational medication sharing," or abuse of prescription drugs "for a buzz," explained lead investigator Richard C. Goldsworthy, director of research and development at The Academic Edge, a Bloomington, Ind.-based developer of educational media.

"What people haven't looked at is what we started to call 'altruistic medication sharing,'" he said. "It's 'You're not feeling so well,' and a friend happens to have some extra medicine of a certain kind that treats symptoms similar to what you're having, and they let you borrow it."

In an earlier study, Goldsworthy and colleagues reported that 20 percent of U.S. teens say they swap prescription drugs such as antibiotics and allergy medicines with friends. The new study corroborates the frequency of drug-sharing in America, with one in five admitting to borrowing drugs.

Many people just think it's "no big deal," he explained.

Yet depending on the drug, the dosage and other factors, it can be a very big deal, one expert cautioned.

"There's always been an issue, especially with medications such as pain medic
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