Selling your own unused prescription - illegal? (US)

Let me clarify, this is not something I am considering doing myself, as a buyer or seller. I browse an online classifieds board (think craigslist, but specific to a local college), and someone has posted an ad selling a few months of unopened and unexpired birth control pills. She is only asking a few dollars, but she is asking for money.

Isn’t this, generally speaking, illegal in the US? I would assume so, but I am also so surprised that someone would put up a post like this, with their work email, that I have to wonder. FWIW posting is restricted on this site, it’s possible this poster isn’t who they say they are but I doubt it.

Yes, it is illegal to provide prescription medications to someone w/o having the proper authorization to do so.

Agreed. Though as you’ve seen, people do it anyway. I’ve heard there’s quite a market for unused fertility medications, for example.

It’s a tad annoying, in that there have been times where I’ve had perfectly usable left-over medications (the time the pharmacy gave us the wrong strength Epi Pen, the time I got the wrong sort of inhaler from the mail order pharmacy… actually both of these were doctor prescribing errors or I could have simply returned them); the products were in their original containers, clearly unopened / untampered with, and I had to throw them out.

My daughter, the legal purist, freaks out if I have her brother use her inhaler ;). She has asthma that requires daily medication, he needs inhalers perhaps once every 2 years, and it’s silly to keep separate units for him that’ll get used for a week then thrown out, so I just raided her stash the last time he needed one. He had a prescription, I just didn’t fill it.

With the OP essentially answered, a related question: how should you properly dispose of unused medication? Given the consequence of drugs entering our water supply, it seems like simply dumping it in the trash isn’t the best solution (similar to how you’re not supposed to toss CFLs in the trash either).

This has been addressed in a couple of other threads over the past year. Some pharamacies will take them but basically the risk of reissuing opened medication is too great. You don’t know what it really is or where it’s been. No chain of evidence. I think the pharamacies that accept them destroy it.

I’m going to guess that selling your unused controlled medication to another would give rise to a “sales of a controlled substance” charge.

Just a bit of interest for the OP:

I studied to be a Pharm Tech many, many moons ago. We had to memorize, word for word, the classic line that could be found, we were told, on *every single prescription label ever filled:

“Federal law prohibits the transfer of this drug to any person other than the patient for whom it was prescribed.”

*I did find one fairly old ‘scrip in the cabinet that did not have that declaration on the label, so the times - they may be a-changin’.

Thanks for replies everyone. I didn’t realize it was so cut and dry.

Here is one of the previous threads about donating (not selling) unused prescriptions:

I say, for things like birth control pills, which are (1) sealed in a foil pouch; (2) in a blister pack; (3) too expensive (even for generics*); and (4) prohibitively difficult/expensive to get prescribed for low-wage or uninsured women; I say, good for her (the seller in the OP).

Yes it technically is against the law, and she is dumb to advertise it online. However, morally and ethically I think she is doing the right thing by helping another woman obtain a much-needed medication and not wasting it.

  • (Rant about costs) I take a generic BC pill, and the cash price for it is about $35. There are 3 weeks of active pills and 1 week of placebo pills. So the cost per pill is $1.67 (35/21). IMHO this is too expensive for a common generic maintenance medication that most women of child-bearing age will be taking on a regular basis for the majority of their child-bearing years.

That is over $600 a year, or over $18,000 for a woman over a lifetime (if she takes them starting at age 18, for 30 years, until menopause, with some time off for pregnancies).

That is too much!!

Why did you have to memorize it word for word? If every pharmacist says exactly the same thing, it just makes it easier to totally phase out that sentence.

There are some BCP’s that are more appropriate for some women than others, due to the amount and type of hormone they contain. I’d be wary of that.

Yes, absolutely a buck+ per pill is a lot of money. My understanding is that Planned Parenthood can help the less fortunate obtain BCP’s for an affordable amount. In any event, $18K over a lifetime is a lot cheaper than the cost to raise an actual child. :wink:

I have no idea. Possibly our instructors were just trying to ensure that us newly-minted pharm techs understood the consequences of just tossing any old pill to any old customer? :cool:

**While it makes sense to prevent resale of unsealed medications to someone who hasn’t had that medication prescribed to them by their own doctor, what about those who have had the drug in question prescribed to them and it comes in a sealed container?
Right now I have three months of a medication that costs $1,900 for one month’s dosage. It is in sealed boxes with a manufacturer’s seal on both the top and bottom of the boxes and doesn’t expire until Oct 2011 for one of the boxes and Dec of 2011 for the other two boxes. It was shipped with ice packs and has been refrigerated since it was received.
It was used by my Sister who just died.
Yet under US law I have to destroy $5,700 worth of this medication when if I could sell it to someone who has a prescription for it for half price I could get back half of what she paid for it so I can pay for her funeral and save another sufferer almost $3,000 for three months worth of drug treatments.

It sounds stupid and wasteful to just toss $5,700 worth of sealed and unused medications away.

I know I can donate it to some organizations who will accept it because it is sealed but I do need at least some money from it in order to bury my sister and these organizations don’t pay you anything for medicines you give them and in fact won’t even come and pick it up so it would cost me money to drive to one of their collection centers.

If I were well off I wouldn’t hesitate to do this but I am not. I am not looking for any profit since my Sister paying for the medicines is why she had no money left for her own funeral. I just would want enough to pay for burying her and in fact even that much would still require me to put up the difference between what it costs and what I would receive if I got 50% of the cost of the medicine.

But that is our government, penny wise and pound foolish.

I am low wage and I’ve gotten bc pills for years for free.

After you factor in the costs of storing, categorising, and checking all the medication. the litigation exposure and human cost if things go wrong (or people just think they’ve gone wrong ;)), and the potential negative impact on drug effectiveness in people who are worried that they have got second hand medicine (no seriously, go look up the nocebo effect) I doubt they’d be saving all that much money.

Medication is too important for it to be generally worth saving money by penny pinching.

In regard to safe and legal disposal of pharmaceuticals, the Drug Enforcement Administration has ramped up a program for exactly this purpose. Naturally, they’re focusing on more “recreational” drugs (like Oxcycontin, for example), but they’ll take whatever you’ve got and incinerate it. will tell you where to find your local office.

I’d be pretty hesitant to buy medication that must be kept refrigerated from an unknown source.

My dad got into Big Trouble over this years ago. He was a home health care nurse (a nurse that made house calls in rural areas) and worked primarily with people who were terminally ill. He was also addicted to Morphene at the time.

When his patients passed away, he would basically take the morphene and use it for himself (stealing it) and making up whatever story he wanted about where it went. This bit him in the ass, however, because his employer got wise when the families of patients were asking for reimbursement for unneeded medication. He got in Big Trouble over it.

But it makes me wonder- in this case, the families would get reimbursed for unused prescriptions. Isnt that how it works? For something controlled, like morphene, or valuable, like chemo drugs, I would think they would reimburse the family for the cost. I mean, otherwise, whats the point? You’ve wasted money on medicine you no longer need, that is something that could really help someone else in need? It seems so wasteful and selfish to destroy it (especially in the case of Chemoo drugs and stuff)

It may be sealed, but how does anyone know that:

It is not counterfeit. Counterfeit drugs enter even the legitimate supply chain sometimes. Buying from a private, unlicensed source greatly increases the risk.

It has been stored properly to maintain its potency. This drug requires refrigeration. How would the buyer know if you left it in the trunk of a car on in the summer for week?

I am surprised to hear that it may be legal to donate it.

I belong to a cancer support group ( I subscribed during my late bf’s illlness and stayed active) and I know that when a member passes his family often sends the leftover medications (some which easily cost over $1000 for month’s supply) to other members although they are always very careful and conduct all the conversations regarding the transaction via private messages.

These are very expensive specialty medications that are often paid for out of pocket and I can’t imagine anyone throwing them away.

Get it filled through an online Canadian pharmacy such as canada drugs dot com. You fax or mail them your genuine script. They will not take scripts dated more than 2 years old. Roughly $20/mo for brand name Yasmin. Search for online new customer and coupon codes. It’s okay to buy them just for yourself, just not to buy them and sell or distribute them to others.

ETA: Any further questions, PM me your email address and we’ll talk more via email.