Miércoles 3 de Septiembre de 2008, Ip nº 245

No prescription? Have some of mine
Por Tara Parker-pope

Borrowing and sharing of prescription drugs among friends and family is common, particularly among younger women, a new report shows.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed more than 25,000 adults and found that sharing of prescription drugs is common, with 29 percent of women and 27 percent of men engaging in the practice.

But drug-sharing rates were highest among younger women ages 18 to 44, raising special concerns about side effects and health risks of unchecked prescription drug use among women who might become pregnant. Among the 7,500 women of reproductive age in the survey, more than one in three shared prescription drugs with friends or used medication offered by friends, according to the report, published in The Journal of Women’s Health. Among women of reproductive age, about 37 percent shared drugs, compared to 20 percent of women in other age groups.

Allergy medicines and pain pills were the types of drugs most commonly borrowed or shared by women. The practice is worrisome given that most drugs have side effects or can interact with other medications. Pain medications typically pose an addiction risk. Another concern is the fact that some drugs can pose a risk to a developing embryo or fetus if a woman was to become pregnant while taking a borrowed medication.

Women said they borrowed drugs if they already had a prescription for the medication but didn’t have it with them, or if they had a similar health problem as the person who had the prescription pills.

“This study confirms what many health care providers suspect,” said Dr. Susan G. Kornstein, editor-in-chief and executive director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health in Richmond. “It is clear that patients need to be counseled about the potential risks of sharing and borrowing medications, especially if they are women of reproductive age.”

The problem of prescription drug sharing is also common among teenage girls. In 2003, the medical journal Pediatrics reported that 20 percent of teen girls shared medications, compared to about 13 percent of teen boys.

Does this surprise you? Have you and your friends ever taken or offered a prescription drug? Post your comments below.

  25/08/2008. The New York Times Blogs.