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A new study finds that borrowing medication prescribed to someone else is not more common in low-income, urban populations, compared with the general population. The findings dispel a common misperception among doctors that this population is more likely to use drugs not prescribed for them, the authors say.

According to Medical News Today, the authors say there has been a perception that prescription medicine borrowing is more common in low-income, urban areas for several reasons. These include a perceived lack of access to health care, as well as higher rates of drug abuse and crime in these areas.

The study, conducted by researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia, looked at patterns of prescription borrowing among 641 patients seeking care at an urban medical center.  Three-quarters of participants were African American, 71 percent had a high school education or less, and 68 percent did not have a full-time job. They found that 90 percent had health insurance and 75 percent had recently seen their primary health care provider.

The researchers report in the Journal of Urban Health that 18 percent said they had ever taken a medication originally prescribed for someone else. This rate is similar to that seen in studies in other populations across the country, they write. The most commonly obtained medications were for pain (74 percent), usually in the form of opioids, followed by medications for anxiety and depression (14 percent).

“I think this helps to break some stereotypes, particularly in the way doctors view their patients,” lead researcher Lawrence Ward remarked. “Just because patients are from a less affluent area, they are not more apt to borrow prescription medications than their more educated or more affluent counterparts.”

The most common reason study participants gave for borrowing medication was convenience. They most often got the medication from a friend or family member.


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