Dear Annie: My dad’s cousin, “John,” is an internist from another state. During my younger sister’s wedding weekend, Dr. John stayed with us. Two days before the wedding, my sister was stressed and couldn’t sleep. John offered her Ambien. The pill was blue and in a blister pack. He gave her two, even though the label states you shouldn’t take them unless you can get six hours of sleep. My sister absolutely didn’t have time for that.
I have a prescription for Ambien, and it’s white. I have no idea what John gave my sister. At the hairdresser’s the next day, she was totally zoned out. Isn’t it wrong for physicians to dispense such medications without a prescription?
There have been several incidents in the past where John has given prescription medications to my family members without seeing them. He once sent my dad expired ointments for a rash that turned out to be shingles. When my mother had pneumonia, he told her to take flu medication. He didn’t examine them, nor did he write a prescription. What do you think I should do? – Furious and Concerned
Dear Furious: First of all, Ambien can come in different colors, depending on the dosage. We assume these are sample drugs that John happens to have handy. The real issue is that your family is eager to take advantage of John’s ability to provide such medication for free and without needing to see their regular physician. They have the option not to follow his advice or take what he offers, but they prefer the convenience.