pillboysmall.pngDecember makes me think of JC, a 20-year-old patient who was rushed into the Emergency Room after he was found collapsed on the lawn. We couldn’t save him. It wasn’t a heart attack or a drug overdose, he died because he was on Lipitor (atorvastatin) 40mg every day and drank a large amount of grapefruit juice. His mother, with all the best intent, bought him grapefruit juice because she read in a magazine that it helped in lowering cholesterol. The grapefruit juice inhibited the breakdown of Lipitor (and all statins like it) to a toxic level in his blood.

One of the biggest issues that have always bothered me is the amount of counseling given to patients in regards to drugs. While there is an emphasis on drug-drug interactions, I have noticed that there is a lack of emphasis on drug-food and drug-herbal interactions.

Are people aware that grapefruit interacts with statins, anti-arrhythmics (i.e. amioradone), some anti-depressants and many other drugs?

Does someone who is on a monamine oxidase inhibitors(MAOI – i.e. Selegiline, Isocarboxazid) know that he should avoid tyramine containing foods such as cheese, sauerkrauts, snow pea pods?

We cannot assume that patients will read the package inserts.

With that being said, here are some sites that send users the latest information about their medication or alert users of FDA recalls due to an adverse reaction such as the Vioxx situation. Unfortunately, I am unaware of any alerts that reminds users of drug-food or drug-herbal interactions.

iGuard is a drug alert system that sends users notification of important safety information. It alerts you when there is information pertaining to your drug sent by the FDA, drug manufacturers, or the scientific community. It also provides you with a personalized risk rating that assesses your risk for a potential side effect along with its potential severity. The site was developed by Dr. Hugo Stephenson, who was President of the strategic research and drug safety division of Quintiles Transnational, a firm providing clinical research services to the drug industry.

fdalogo.pngFDA e-Mail Alerts
The FDA sends e-Mail alerts in the area that you are interested in. Of particular interest are the subscriptions under “Consumer Health Information”:

  • FDA & You
    FDA newsletter on medical products and health topics for teens, parents and educators
  • FDA Consumer Education about Medicine
    Consumer education on making the best medicine choices, buying safely, and using medicine safely and effectively
  • FDA Consumer Health Information
    Timely and easy-to-read articles on product approvals, safety warnings, and other health information. Articles cover all FDA-regulated products, including drugs, medical devices, vaccines, blood, food, dietary supplements and cosmetics
  • Maturity Health Matters
    FDA newsletter on regulated products for older adults, their families and caregivers.
  • Medicines in My Home
    An interactive and educational program about the safe and effective use of over-the-counter medicines

Navigating the FDA Maze: