These 7 Medications Can Prevent You From Donating Blood

Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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Blood transfusions can be a risky business. The goal of transfusion medicine is to minimize any risks to a patient receiving outside blood — blood types have to match and there can’t be any substances in the blood that would cause the patient to have a dangerous reaction. It surprises many folks to hear that despite all good intention, your eligibility to donate blood may be affected by the medications you’re taking.

Here’s what you need to know.

First, taking the following medications will not disqualify you as a blood donor forever, but it may result in a waiting period following your last dose. So keep this in mind if you are donating for a friend or family member; this may be a big deal if you’re in a rush.

Let’s see the list that will cause a (sometimes very) long waiting period.

1) Acne medications — isotretinoin

Accutane, Absorica, claravis, myorisan, sotret or zenatane are all oral forms of isotretinoin used for severe acne. We know these medications can cause birth defects, and that’s why you will not be able to donate blood unless you took your last dose a month before.

2) Finasteride and dutasteride

Proscar and Propecia are brand names for finasteride, a medication used for symptoms related to benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and/or hair loss in men. Because finasteride can lead to birth defects in male babies, you will need to wait one month since your last dose before you can donate blood.

Avodart (dutasteride) is used for hair loss in men and BPH, while Jalyn (dutasteride+tamsulosin) is used just for BPH. But with both, you will have to wait six months from your last dose to donate blood due to risks of  birth defects in male fetuses.

3) Psoriasis medication — Soriatane (acitretin)

Soriatane (acitretin) is a medication used to treat psoriasis, and you will have to wait three years — yes three years — after taking it to donate blood. Severe congenital birth defects and death are associated with acitretin use.

4) Antiplatelet medications

Antiplatelet medications like aspirin, Plavix, Ticlid, Effient, and Brilinta don’t affect waiting periods for donating blood, but they do affect platelet donation. For Aspirin, you must wait two days after taking aspirin to donate platelets. For Plavix (clopidogrel) and Ticlid (ticlopidine),you must wait 14 days after taking these medication before donating platelets.

Effient (prasugrel) and Brilinta (ticagrelor) are also antiplatelet medications used for folks who have coronary artery disease, and while no waiting period is needed for donating blood, you must wait seven days after taking these medication before donating platelets.

5) Blood thinners

If you are taking Arixtra (fondaparinux), Coumadin or heparin, you cannot donate since your blood will not clot normally. You can only donate seven days after you discontinue these medications.

Newer blood thinners like Fragmin, Eliquis, Pradaxa, Xarelto, and Lovenox (enoxaparin) are used in people with atrial fibrillation or those with clots in their legs (deep venous thrombosis) and you will need to wait two days from your last dose before donating.

6) Growth hormone injections

If you’ve used human pituitary-derived growth hormone at any time, you are not eligible to donate blood.

7) Multiple sclerosis medication — Aubagio

Aubagio (teriflunomide) is a medication taken daily in people with multiple sclerosis and though there is debate about whether or not Aubagio results in birth defects, the Red Cross reports you must wait two years after discontinuing it before you can donate blood.

A quick note: Over-the-counter oral homeopathic medications, herbal remedies and nutritional supplements are acceptable and will not exclude you from donating blood.

Hope this helps.

Dr O.

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