Why Borrowing Medicine Is Bad

Borrowing prescription medications from family or friends is common. But experts say this practice is not wise. According to new research, about one in four people who take a ‘borrowed’ prescription meds will have a side effect.

The study

Rick Goldsworthy, PhD, director of research and development at Academic Edge in Bloomington, Ind., says, "We’d seen in preliminary studies that one in five people were sharing."

Goldsworthy received similar results in his current survey of 2,773 respondents aged 12-45. Of that number, about 594 admitted to sharing medicines. However, Goldsworthy admitted that the number of people who experienced side effects is new. ”The side effect number surprises me and concerns me as well."

Of the one in five who admitted borrowing prescription medicines, 54.6 percent did not receive written information, while 38.2 percent did not get verbal instructions or warnings about the medicine.

Reasons why people borrow prescription medications

People borrow prescription medications for different reasons. The most common reason – 77.3 percent – is to avoid having to visit their doctor. Eventually however, one of the three said they had to go to their health care provider anyway to treat their health problem.

Another 205 survey respondents said, they did not inform their doctor or other health care provider that they took borrowed prescription medications.

Goldsworthy does not have information on the severity of the side effects the respondents reported.

Most common borrowed prescription medications

  • Pain medications, 39.7%
  • Allergy medicines, 33.5%
  • Antibiotics, 25.8%
  • Mood or anxiety medications, 13.6%
  • Acne medicine, 8.6%
  • Birth control pills, 4.5%

Goldsworthy calls borrowing prescription meds among family and friends altruistic borrowing – because the intentions were good. A friend or family member may have simply run out of their prescribed medication and did not have the time to buy; or they may have the same symptoms as a family member or friend.

Goldsworthy however, says he suspects there were some misrepresentations in the respondents’ answers. . "In our study there is probably a slight under-reporting of the rates of borrowing." And there is probably also over-reporting or those who reported to have informed their health care provider about borrowing medicines.

As for the reason why they borrowed medicines rather than going to the doctor, Goldsworthy says, he thinks it is more of a time issue than a financial one.

Source: WebMD