What Drugs Can Disqualify You From Giving Blood? 

Giving blood to help someone in a medical emergency is something we should all be willing to do. However, we need to consider not only the health of the recipient of the blood but also the health of the donor. Many people who would like to give blood may be on certain medications which could cause problems for the recipient, especially if the recipient is a pregnant woman in which case the health of the unborn child must be considered. Let’s now consider a few medications of concern that would disqualify someone from being a donor. 

1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin and piroxicam. Aspirin requires a 5-day interval between use and donation for platelets particularly. For whole blood donation however, aspirin use is not a problem. 

2. Antiandrogens such as finasteride and dutasteride used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). These can cause abnormal development of the genitalia of male foetuses if donors on these drugs give blood to pregnant women. A donation must not be made if finasteride has been taken in the past 4 weeks and dutasteride in the past 6 months.

3. Oral retinoids such as acitretin, alitretinoin and isotretinoin used for acne treatment. These can cause problems in an unborn child if a pregnant woman receives blood containing them. Donation for a pregnant woman is not allowed if the donor has taken acitretin in the past 24 months or alitretinoin or isotretinoin in the past 4 weeks. 

4. Patients taking Carbimazole and propylthiouracil for thyroid disease may not donate blood. They can however donate blood 24 months after stopping both drugs. 

Always be sure to let the health care professionals attending to you know all the drugs you’re currently taking or which you’ve taken in the recent past. This will help them determine your eligibility to be a blood donor in addition to the other criteria

Are you concerned about a particular drug being suitable or not suitable to take before a blood donation? Please share in the comment section


Chijioke Nwosu is a public health specialist and pharmacist with an avid interest in giving people the information they need to make healthy choices and thus lead healthier lives. He has an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine having previously studied for his pharmacy degree at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He currently works as a hospital pharmacist and is engaged in public health advocacy and health promotion.

Twitter @CJ_Nwosu

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