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Sharing Your Prescription Acne Treatments

Should You Share (or Use) Someone Else's Prescription Acne Medication?


Updated April 20, 2009

Consider these scenarios:

1. Your sister, who usually has perfect skin, has suddenly began breaking out. She’s upset, and you remember that you have half a tube of BenzaClin in your cabinet. You give it to her, thinking she’ll benefit more from it than you.

2. You’re frustrated with the results you’re (not) getting with the topical treatment your doctor gave you. Your best friend has been using Accutane and loves it. She suggests you ask your doctor for a prescription. In the meantime, she offers you a few of her own pills to try, just to see if you like it.

These may be generous gestures, but there is one glaring problem with both situations -- people using medications not prescribed for them!

While it may seem like a small thing, using medication meant for someone else may not be safe. Even topical treatments can do considerable damage when used inappropriately. Oral medications can be downright dangerous when used by someone they’re unsuitable for.

Many people share their prescription medications, though. A report published in the American Journal of Public Health found that almost one-quarter of study participants have shared their prescription medications with someone else.

Just over 26% had used another’s prescription. An even larger proportion said that sharing prescription medications is OK to do, at least in some situations.

You love your friends and family, and of course want to help them in whatever way you can. But there are other ways you can help them without running a pharmacy out of your bathroom cabinet.

Offer to go shopping with them for OTC acne products, or encourage them to see their own doctor. Their family doctor can treat acne if seeing a dermatologist isn’t an option.

On the flip side, you shouldn’t be using your pal’s prescriptions either. No matter how tempting it is, you should never use someone else's prescription medications.

Richard C. Goldsworthy, Nancy C. Schwartz, and Christopher B. Mayhorn “Beyond Abuse and Exposure: Framing the Impact of Prescription Medication Sharing.” Am J Public Health, Jun 2008; 98: 1115 - 1121.

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