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Share a pill and get a thrill

Women and pillsThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released a study with some shocking findings: Many Americans routinely share their prescription drugs with family members and friends. Young women engage in this practice the most. More than a third say they either have given drugs to others or have accepted them when offered.

The most popular prescriptions were for allergies, but the second most-shared drug was painkillers.

Most sharing likely doesn’t amount to hardcore drug dealing. And it wouldn’t cross the threshold of fraud. But the sharing of medicine is certainly a concern from a health standpoint as well as a fraud perspective.

Some of these drugs are highly addictive and should be taken only under the close supervision of qualified physicians. Pill sharing can lead to abuse and addiction and add to the nation’s multi-billion-dollar drug diversion problem, much of which is financed via insurance fraud.

Public education could go a long way toward helping deter people from sharing drugs. This is one way the medical community and insurers could team up to sponsor public outreach for the sake of patients — as well as to address the costly diversion problem.

And what about requiring that every bottle of the most addictive and abused drugs carry a stern warning about the consequences of pill sharing? Something like: “Sharing this medicine with others is illegal and can result in fines and imprisonment.”

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