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Business idea: app for local drug sharing (medicine)

A couple of months ago I bought a prescription cream for something like $50.

Used less than 1/5th of it and now... What am I gonna do with it?

Keep it forever in the unlikely event I'll need it again?
More likely, I'll throw it away.
I don't like throwing stuff away because it feels like I'm wasting resources down the drain.

For the majority of whatever drug I bought, I ended up throwing away most of it.

All the while, there is probably someone else who is going to pay the full price for the same drug, and a good chunk of those, will then end up throwing away most of it.

The waste is enormous.

If you live in a city, those same guys are probably nearby you, and easy to connect.
I just Googled now, and didn't find any app for anything similar.

Sure, there will be legal hurdles in sharing prescription drugs.
But they can probably be overcome -maybe uploading the prescription before exchanging-.
And the same concept applies anyway for countless other non-prescription drugs, from eye drops, to topical creams, to nicotine patches (you know that most people will resume smoking anyway :), etc. etc.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

In Greece, I give the drugs to the pharmacies to a special bin for recycling. Furthermore, some pharmacies send the drugs  to the "social pharmacy", a pharmacy dedicated to the poor people.

Lucio Buffalmano has reacted to this post.
Lucio Buffalmano


I wouldn't personally trust too much that the recycling is much better than the normal trash, but I love the option of the "Social Pharmacy". That one is really effective at preserving the value and helping others.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Sounds like a fascinating idea to test and explore!
I have a bunch of eye drops for dry eyes lying around.

I'm thinking that it is possible to test the market demand for sharing drugs on a small scale with Facebook groups and ads.
Not sure if Facebook has any terms and conditions regarding running ads on drugs or pharmaceuticals.
Run ads in central Berlin for example to join a local drug-sharing Facebook group. (maybe drug-sharing is not the best name)
Or maybe there are already such closed Facebook groups. I am unaware of them at least.

Pharmaceutical Industry

The distributors and pharmaceuticals may hide under the guise of legal hurdles to go after you if you scale the business up though.
They would regard this secondary consumer-to-consumer (C2C) market as a competition.
A possible mitigation would be to partner with regulatory bodies and maybe "Social Pharmacy" charities like what Incognito said.
This would build credibility and give you a pro-social, reputational advantage.

There are some interesting books on the dark side of the pharmaceutical industry that I would like to read:
Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom
The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care

A more entertaining book of a personal account would be
Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman
Some reviews say that it is more humourous than a deep insight into the pharmaceutical industry.
Comments like
"I witnessed men undergo complete personality makeovers in the presence of female salespeople,"
"The women had the most basic human response on their side; regardless how behind schedule or how crazy the day, a male doctor would snap to attention at a mere whiff of perfume or a glance at a pretty girl, his instinctive desire to reproduce having kicked into gear."

Making Mobile Apps

I have been wanting to look at this.
Glide Apps
Apparently, you can create a mobile app from a spreadsheet.
Not sure how good is the customisability of the features for a mobile app by Glide Apps.

The free version of Adobe XD is pretty good for creating clickable prototypes.
It allows linking of different screen designs.
Linking a rectangle from this screen so that it acts as a button to go to another screen.


Some thoughts off-hand about this idea and topic.

Ehehe drug sharing might actually be a great name to get clicks in Berlin, just not for our purposes :).

Thank you for sharing those books, Matthew, and glad to see one of them is in audio format.
I'll definitely look at it eventually.
Also interesting to see about the actual utility of some popular drugs, like aspirin. Some evolutionary psychologists mentioned that the temperature raises as an evolved body reaction to fight off the virus, and lowering the temperature is harmful rather than useful.

Matthew Whitewood has reacted to this post.
Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

Just had an AH-HA moment on this idea!
I was talking to my doctor friend who is interested in applying AI to healthcare.
I would like to add to this idea.
Although still, a long way to go.

People are researching ways to tailor the drug dosage amount to individuals of different types.
This is the area of precision medicine.

Combined Drug Recycling Machine and Vending Machine Idea


  1. Leave drugs in original packaging.
  2. Deposit the drug in the drug recycling machine.
  3. Enter drug information: drug name, number of pills, per pill dosage, expiry date
  4. Verify with weight balance, OCR for expiry date.
  5. The machine accepts or rejects your drugs.
  6. You get some money

Additional possible step

  • repackage the drugs by taking them out of their original packaging and putting them into new ones.
  • not sure if this will run into hygiene or sanitary issues
  • especially with covid-19 situation


  1. Choose the drug from the vending machine
  2. Enter prescription for prescription drugs; else skip this for non-prescription drugs like paracetamol
  3. Pay the relevant amount
  4. Collect the drug

This is where a bit of AI can come in.
Measure a person's symptoms

  • Eye scanner for conjunctivitis - recognise an infected eye
  • Infra-red scanner for fever - detect fever based on body's heat map
  • Heart Rate - simple measurement
  • Blood pressure - simple measurement

Maybe you can have a virtual diagnosis at the side of the machine with an actual doctor for ambiguous cases.
Or just put this outside a clinic so the patient can walk in for a face-to-face diagnosis.

This would get the buy-in from doctors as well to support this idea.


A doctor or pharmacist could advise more on the dangers of sharing drugs and their regulations.


Instead of selling drugs in packages in sizes of 1, put them in smaller batches like 1 or 2.
The doctor prescribes the minimum/average quantity needed.
Pick up more drugs at the pharmacy if you run out.


Maybe drug-manufacturing companies intentionally sell drugs in large batch sizes so that they can charge higher prices.