My boss had an idea, most of the employees when they have migraine, or start to get a cold for example, normally they don't have some drugs near or they just don't bring it from home and they need to ask to others employees for them.

The idea is to have a box with common drugs on it, like ibuprofen,paracetamol, antihistamines, antifebrile... The system works like when you take one, next day you bring one from home.


  • There's some restrictions on having drugs with easy access to the employees?
  • What would be the most recommended drugs for the box?
  • What can be the main problems of having this box on the office?

I'm not talking about first-aid kit, we have already one and we know what should have.

Note: I need a concrete answer, because on my company we have some inspections yearly and they are really strict. In case you need more information of the company I can provide it.

  • 7
    This would definitely not be allowable in the UK. Consult your insurers before doing this. If an employee had an allergic reaction to a drug 'administered' by your company, your company would cease to exist.
    – Strawberry
    Feb 10, 2017 at 18:49
  • 9
    In Germany, the first aid people are not allowed to hand out medications (leading to strange circumvention action such as placing meds on their desk loudly stating "I am not allowed to give this to you, but if you were to take one while I am gone it would be out of my control"). With that in mind, I doubt that a self-help box would be allowed. That said, our first aid person always had pain killers around for anyone who asked, though this always resulted in the bizarre ritual mentioned above.
    – Llewellyn
    Feb 10, 2017 at 19:13
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    We can't give you a concrete answer. You really have to run this by your company through official channels. If they say 'no', then that's your answer.
    – user44108
    Feb 10, 2017 at 19:41
  • 1
    If you did set this up and wanted people to replace what they use, asking them to replace a pill at a time sounds like a bad idea. Why not just buy individual use packets, and then ask employees to reimburse the cost of each packet they use. Or have a pill vending machine (or add pills to the regular candy vending machine, which I've seen in some places) where employees can buy single use pill packets themselves, which might help absolve the company from legal liability since the employees are buying the pills they use.
    – Johnny
    Feb 10, 2017 at 20:29
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    Having people put pills back in the bottle is ... problematic. Why can't the company just supply a few bottles of common drugs to employees, and buy new ones when they run out? If people start abusing the system then end it.
    – AndreiROM
    Feb 10, 2017 at 22:16

4 Answers 4


I think having folks contribute medications is a BAD BAD idea. Though it doesn't happen often, medication is contaminated from the source. If there were medical issues created by what gets shared in the office, it would be difficult to trace who brought what. I wouldn't want that many hands on or near anything I put in my body.

Best to source this from an established supplier selling ONLY things packaged for single-use.

  • So you're essentially saying that Co workers might be tempted to provide counterfeit or cheap products from unknown sources...
    – user44108
    Feb 10, 2017 at 18:43
  • 2
    All the commercially sold products I've seen for offices have single-use packaging for everything. Would you really want to take the chance of grabbing an pill from a shared bottle where people have not only taken out, but dropped in more from various sources when it gets low??? That pill that looks like "A" might actually be "B" -- and if there was an adverse reaction due to a foul-up like this, it'd make things quite difficult for medical personnel to treat. I think doing this on purpose is an extreme case. But any damage thus, whether intentional or not, is hard to 'undo'.
    – Xavier J
    Feb 10, 2017 at 18:53
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    Pete, it's not just the risk of counterfeit or cheap products, but the risk of using 'loose' medication in general. The process of transferring a pill from one container to another is riddled with possible errors. It is also true that the same medication can take many forms, one 200 mg ibuprofen might look different from another. You'll end up with a container labeled "ibuprofen" with an arbitrary number of differently shaped medications contained inside, this creates ambiguity to the person opening the container - they won't have any way to validate that the pills within are correct. Feb 10, 2017 at 18:55
  • 4
    Here in the UK the vast majority of pills are provided in individual blisters with the name and strength clearly labelled on the back. I really can't remember seeing a bottle of pills that wasn't a prescription supply. I guess different countries have different ways of doing things,but I can only talk from my own experience.
    – user44108
    Feb 10, 2017 at 19:26
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    @Pete I doubt anyone will intentionally cause harm, but items should be in their original packaging so you know when they expire and can identify if they're part of a recall. There's also a good chance people will put the wrong pills in the bottle, either accidentally or because they consider them to be equivalent.
    – Kat
    Feb 10, 2017 at 22:15

I can only speak for my Company Office in NJ. We have a first aid kit fully stocked with Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Acetaminophen and Naproxen. This is a 2000+ Employee company so I can not imagine it being illegal and them doing it.

The company has a contract with some company to keep them fully stocked, and expiration dates are checked. The only problem that I can imagine in your scenario is that some people will feel like others are abusing it and could feel cheated that they are contributing while others are not. Is it possible for your company to get a Contract like we have?

The Company we have the Contract with I believe is Safetymax. For those interested in what it looks like:

enter image description here

  • 1
    This is a good answer, though I don't know if this applies to Germany or not. As mentioned in one of the comments, in some countries it is illegal for first aid kits to contain medication.
    – David K
    Feb 10, 2017 at 16:39
  • When I was working in Germany and ask about it (being used to one in the same company in US) I was told by office manager that it is actually illegal. (I am not a lawyer and this is not a legal advice). Feb 10, 2017 at 19:11
  • 1
    Sorry, an US answer for a Germany question is not helpful.
    – Mindwin
    Feb 10, 2017 at 19:23
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    @Mindwin When the question was originally asked Germany was not in the tags
    – Halfwarr
    Feb 10, 2017 at 20:35
  • @Mindwin if they're going to do it, then this is almost certainly that best route to go. If they cannot find a company in their country that supplies this service, then that's a good sign that they should abandon the idea. So I think it is still helpful as an answer.
    – Kat
    Feb 10, 2017 at 22:18

There's some basic rules I can think of (in the UK):-

  1. Only contribute medications that are over-the-counter and in-date. No one must ever put prescription drugs into that box (ideally, you'd want to contribute items that are newly bought, not just found in your home drugs cabinet from x years ago)
  2. Only use medication that you're sure are suitable for your condition and you don't have any adverse reactions to
  3. Ensure that people choose and make their own choice of medication and dose
  4. Ensure that the contents are clearly labelled (anything which isn't, should be clinically disposed of)

There's a huge amount of potential risk here, but this can work if people keep to the rules.

Also, clear this with HR or your health & safety representative - you want to make sure this is legal and acceptable to your company.

And don't put that box anywhere near the first aid box - you really don't want to give the impression that your first aider is giving out medication.

  • 4
    I can think of the following - do not supply drugs. Are you a doctor/pharmacist? Is you are then go ahead. If not do not. You are not qualified.
    – Ed Heal
    Feb 10, 2017 at 18:28
  • The intention here isn't to supply, it's too have a stock of items that people can take from if they wish to. I guess I didn't state this clearly enough, but it's people own responsibility to decide what to take and how much. The guy applying the box isn't intending to act as a doctor and diagnose conditions and prescribe drugs...
    – user44108
    Feb 10, 2017 at 18:37
  • Sorry - one way or another you are supplying drugs. is that wise? Will you be liable for any drugs that person takes
    – Ed Heal
    Feb 10, 2017 at 18:45
  • @Pᴇᴛᴇ Germany is rather over regulated in that regard. A lot of basic medicine is designated "pharmacy only". Feb 10, 2017 at 19:17
  • In the UK this would be an insanely bad idea. You might as well paint a sign on the side of the box that reads "Sue our company to death"
    – Richard
    Feb 10, 2017 at 21:12

I just see a massive liability problem with this proposal. Your employer could face the legal consequences should an employee fall ill after taking one of the drugs in the drug cabinet. There are no drugs in first-aid kits for the same reason.


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