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

ong people who delayed seeking care, half of them never told their health-care provider that they had taken a borrowed medication.

"On the side effects, we don't actually know the severity. It's actually a limitation of the study," Goldsworthy said. "And we also don't know, in the analysis we've done so far, how many of those are actually people who sought a side effect."

Still, the prevalence of side effects suggests that the risk for harm is a real possibility.

Avoiding unintended health consequences begins with education, Vaida said. Physicians, pharmacists and nurses need to tell patients not to share their medicines with family or friends, he explained.

People should also get in the habit of cleaning out their medicine cabinets and turning over leftover and unused drugs to community "take-back" programs, he added.

"That's probably something that should be done all the time in every community," Vaida said.

More information

There's more on preventing medication errors at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.



SOURCES: Allen J. Vaida, PharmD, executive vice president, Institute for Safe Medication Practices, Philadelphia; Richard C. Goldsworthy, Ph.D., director, research and development, The Academic Edge, Bloomington, Ind.; U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Nov. 4, 2009, news release; Nov. 11, 2009, presentation, American Public Health Association annual meeting, Philadelphia


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