Monday March 24 2014

Why you should not share medicine

Taking less medicine than prescribed because

Taking less medicine than prescribed because you have to share, could worsen your condition. Photo by Faiswal Kasirye 

This week, we are going to explore the issue of sharing medicine a little further.
As noted before, it is not recommended for any two people to share medicine. This does not matter if people are as close as identical twins, it is simply wrong.
Many a time, a parent rationalises that since two of their children present with the same symptoms, it is not wrong to give one some of the other’s medicine. Sharing is not only among chilldren, but adults as well.
Allowances of course can be made when it comes to painkillers perhaps because these are taken whenever needed but again the question of how and when comes into play so it is better to consult.

So why is the practice wrong?
For starters, medicines have different strengths and what is effective in treating person A’s infection may prove insufficient to treat person B merely because of a two-year age difference or a variation in weight as is common in children where most medicines are tailored to weight. Infact, some drugs may not even be recommended in people of a certain age group.

In addition, because of our inherent differences, one cannot predict how another will react to the same medicine. This means that while one may flourish, some people might suffer allergies to a said medicine or even suffer side effects.
This might be because they are naturally predisposed or perhaps they are taking other drugs or foods that interfere with the proper functioning of medicine C. In addition, the body organs that get rid of the drug might also be functioning differently.

In most cases, when medicine is shared, these people do not go back to the hospital or pharmacy to pick what is left of the now incomplete dose. What happens is one takes three instead of five days of treatment and the other person takes it for two days. This is an under dose. Eventually, there will be two people whose disease has worsened and the “saving” no longer makes sense because it might require longer and more extensive treatment.

And just because two people might have a fever, it does not mean they are suffering from the same disease. It might be the wrong drug treating the wrong disease which amounts to irrational use of drugs.

The writer is a pharmacist