Is it Safe to Take My Friend’s Antibiotics? - VITAL+ Pharmacy

There’s a reason why doctor’s are the only ones authorised to prescribe antibiotics. It might seem like an easy fix to use someone else’s leftover prescription, but there are always risks involved when you take antibiotics, so believe us — your doctor always knows best! We spoke to our Vital+ pharmacists to get the lowdown on taking antibiotics. Here are 6 reasons why you should never share your medication with anyone else...

Coming down with something but don’t have time to see the doctor? We’ve all been there. You know the symptoms, you’ve experienced them before. So diagnosing yourself should be easy, right? And what makes it in even easier — your best friend has the antibiotics you need to clear up that painful UTI. Even better. You don’t even need to speak to the doctor — your BFF’s leftover prescription should kick in fairly quickly. You’ve remedied the illness yourself, and all without having to take the morning off work.

Whilst this may seem like a genius, time-saving fix, there’s a reason why your doctor is the only one authorised to prescribe medication. We chatted to our pharmacists to get their expert advice on taking antibiotics.

Here are six reasons why you should never share your prescription with someone else.

There’s a risk you could have an allergic reaction

If you’re allergic to something, your doctor will not prescribe it to you. Doctors will always take your medical history into account before they write you a script, so if you borrow medication from someone else, you could risk having an allergic reaction to a medicine that they’re not allergic to. Don't put yourself at risk by taking antibiotics that weren't prescribed to you by a health care provider who knows your medical history.

Antibiotics expire

All antibiotics have an expiry date, which could mean they won’t work as well at treating the infection. Each antibiotic has a different shelf life, so its efficacy all depends on when it was manufactured. If it goes past the expiry date, the medication can lose its potency and become less effective.

You won’t get the full prescription

If your doctor prescribes you antibiotics, it's recommended to finish the prescribed dose, even if you start to feel better. Stopping early could mean the infection hasn't yet been fully eliminated and could therefore continue to make you sick. If you use a leftover prescription from a friend, you won’t get the full prescribed dose, so it won’t be as effective. You could end up having to get a second prescription from your doctor anyway, which just means it will take you longer to fight the infection in the long run. 

You might need different antibiotics

Not all antibiotics are the same— they don't all kill the same germs. Certain medications are best for treating specific infections. Once the bacteria causing the infection has been identified, your health care provider will prescribe the best antibiotic to treat it. Even if they don't know the exact bacteria, doctors are trained to know how to figure out which antibiotics are most appropriate for specific infections.

If you take antibiotics from a friend, they might not necessarily be right for treating the infection that you have. Even if it's the same type, you may need a different dose or to take it more or less frequently than the person it was prescribed for.

They could react with other medication

Taking antibiotics when they’re not prescribed might also interfere with your current treatments. If you’re taking any other medications, herbal supplements or have any chronic health conditions, you shouldn’t take additional medications (especially prescriptions — antibiotics or others) without discussing it with your health care provider first. They could interact with other medications you are taking, causing dangerous reactions or side effects. Your doctor will always prescribe antibiotics specific to you and your medical history.

You might not even need antibiotics

Antibiotics are prescribed to treat bacterial infections. If you’re suffering with a virus such as a cold, flu, cough or sore throat, antibiotics won’t work. Antibiotics are also most effective when used the least, so if you keep taking them (particularly when you don’t need to), you could develop a resistance to the medication, and they become less effective as a result.

Liked our advice on taking antibiotics? We've got plenty more health advice on our Health & Wellness Edit, guaranteed to give your body a well-deserved boost. Want to know more about contraception? We give the lowdown on every kind of birth control, plus find out what your headache is trying to tell you. 


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