Is Sharing Medications Dangerous?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

What are the dangers of sharing prescribed medications?

Doctor's response

It is unwise to share prescribed medications for several reasons.  Medications are prescribed for specific individuals and conditions. The dosing and selection of medications is based on the weight and age of a patient, the presence of allergies and existing diseases, and potential interactions with other medications that are being taken.  All of these factors vary from one patient to the next.  Therefore, even if two individuals have the same disease, the best treatment for each may not be the same.  What is good treatment for one patient may be poor-or even dangerous-treatment for another.  For example, using another patient's medication could lead to under - or - over-dosing, toxic drug interactions, avoidable side effects, and treatment with the wrong medication.  Different diseases may have similar symptoms, and, therefore, a medication that worked for one person may not work for another person with similar symptoms because their diseases are different.  If the diseases are different, appropriate medical treatment may be delayed and lead to complications from progression of the untreated disease.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018