You may think that once a doctor writes you a prescription and you pay the pharmacist for your medication, that you own it. Typically, ownership means you can do what you want with possession. If you decide to give your dresser away for no compensation, that's a kind act. If you choose to sell your unworn, upscale shoes, that's a savvy way to recoup lost expenses.
If you give away or sell prescription medication, however, you are breaking the law.
There's a reason that prescribed medications get dispensed by a doctor and then a pharmacist. The intention behind this process is to reduce the potential for prescription abuse and risk to citizens who don't know enough about the dangers of a particular medication.
When you make a decision to side-step the process in place for obtaining prescribed medication by handing out your own, you are breaking state and potentially federal law. Giving or selling your medication to someone who doesn't have a prescription for that drug is illegal and dangerous.
New York takes prescription drug diversion seriously
Maybe a friend told you he or she needed pain relief, and you wanted to help. Perhaps you've discovered that there's a high-price secondary market for ADHD medications among college students. Regardless of whether you made money off the interaction or not, you could face criminal charges for giving or selling medication prescribed to you to anyone else.
Depending on your criminal record and the value of the drugs involved, charges could be misdemeanors or felonies. The potential for jail time exists, primarily because New York laws have changed in recent years to reduce the abuse and diversion of prescribed medication. These laws, in general, are applied to narcotic painkillers. There are many drugs besides painkillers that could get abused outside of a medical setting.
Popularly prescribed drugs of abuse include:
- ADD/ADHD drugs like Ritalin
- benzodiazepines like Xanax
- prescription stimulants
- prescription sedatives
- prescription painkillers, including opiates and opioids
- prescription cough medication
- erectile dysfunction drugs, like Viagra
Some people abuse these drugs for recreational purposes. Others use them to improve focus for school and work or to self-medicate for issues.
Protect yourself by responsibly getting rid of unused medications
If you don't need or use a prescription medication, you could feel tempted to hold on to the remnants, just in case you need it in the future. Then, when you realize someone else has a need or desire for them, you could feel tempted to sell or gift the medication.
Your best option is to safely dispose of leftover drugs as soon as you know you don't need them. Local law enforcement offices may accept some medications for destruction. Your doctor's office or pharmacy can also connect you with responsible disposal options.