Why You Should Never Share Your Antibiotics

Your doctor prescribes you antibiotics, telling you to take the full course of medication even after you’re feeling better.
But, when your symptoms are gone, you ignore your doctor’s instructions and stop taking your medicine.
You leave the rest in the medicine cabinet, ready to use the next time you’re not feeling well.
Or, worse yet, for when someone else is ill.
The collective medical community, especially those who track and treat bacteria stronger than the most powerful antibiotics available, would like you to stop.
New research scheduled to be presented Monday at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference & Exhibition in Orlando, Florida, shows how common this type of medicine sharing is among parents.
Using responses to an anonymous online questionnaire of 496 parents, researchers at the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York reported that 48 percent of the parents surveyed said they’ve held onto leftover antibiotics.
More troubling to researchers was that of those parents, 73 percent reported giving those antibiotics to siblings, unrelated children, and unrelated adults.
This would sometimes occur months after the drugs were originally prescribed.
Dr. Ruth Milanaik, director of the neonatal neurodevelopment follow-up program at Cohen and senior author of the study, says the results show an “alarming” percentage of parents engaging in sharing or borrowing antibiotics, a practice known as prescription diversion.
“This is dangerous not only for those given antibiotics that weren’t prescribed for them, but for entire populations of people who some antibiotics may no longer help when the bacteria they target become resistant to them,” Milanaik said in a statement.