Ask a doctor: ‘Is it ever OK to take someone else’s prescription medication?’

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Ask a doctor: ‘Is it ever OK to take someone else’s prescription medication?’

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Most of us have, at some time or another, asked a friend or family member for some over-the-counter medicine to treat a headache or an upset stomach, as the dosage and directions are fairly universal. 

But is the same protocol appropriate when it comes to taking someone else’s prescription medication?

The resounding answer from medical doctors is an emphatic “no.” 

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There are specific reasons why. 

“Taking someone else’s prescribed medication can be very harmful,” LaTasha Perkins, M.D., a family physician at Medstar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., told Fox News Digital.

Doctors agreed that sharing prescription medications with others is a bad idea. (iStock)

“You need to take only your own medicine and not someone else’s, because so much goes into figuring it out.”

Numerous considerations are involved in prescribing medication to a patient, Perkins said — including health status, medical history and blood work — which can be completely different from one person to the next. 

Even if you take the same medication as someone else, the other person may be on a different dose of it, the doctor noted.

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“A lot of medications also look and sound the same, so you have to take what was specifically prescribed to you,” she cautioned.

Prescription medications

Numerous factors go into prescribing medication to a patient, including health status, medical history and blood work, according to doctors. (iStock)

Drug interactions present another concern. 

“If you’re taking vitamins or any other medication that may interact with a prescription medicine, that should be taken into account when tailoring your prescription,” Perkins said.

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Allergies are yet another key consideration, the doctor warned, as some people are allergic to the additives in medications.

“There’s a reason the medication is prescribed — because it’s personalized to each individual based on a variety of health factors,” Perkins said.

Taking antibiotics

The consequences of sharing prescription medication — which is never a good idea — can range from severe allergic reactions to medication interactions and overdosing, one doctor warned. (iStock)

Chad Weston, M.D., a physician with Novant Health Oceanside Family Medicine & Convenient Care – Brunswick in Shallotte, North Carolina, agreed that taking a medication prescribed to a different individual, even for seemingly similar symptoms, can be harmful and have unintended consequences. 

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“These consequences range from severe allergic reactions to medication interactions and overdosing, causing damage to organs such as the liver and kidneys,” he said in an interview with Fox News Digital.

Instead of seeking symptom relief by taking someone else’s medication, you should see a doctor to get an accurate medical diagnosis and prescription, Weston advised.

doctor with patient

Instead of seeking symptom relief by taking someone else’s medication, you should see a doctor to get an accurate medical diagnosis and prescription, a doctor advised. (iStock)

In the event that you’re traveling and don’t have your medicine with you, Perkins said the best thing to do is call your doctor. 

“If you don’t have your medicine, we can call it into a pharmacy wherever you are,” she said.

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“This is why it’s so important to have a family physician,” she said. 

“Having a relationship with your doctor can help you navigate situations like this.”

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