Drug Interactions--What You Should Know
Did you know that nearly 3 billion prescriptions are filled each year
in the United States alone?† More than 300,000 over-the-counter medicines are
also available and Americans spend $14 billion per year on alternative
medicines, dietary supplements and vitamins.† With the increasing use of all
of these products-often together-the risk of drug interactions and side effects
increases.† To help inform consumers about the risks of these drug interactions,
the Council on Family Health and the Food and Drug Administration have produced
a guide called "Drug Interactions:† What You Should Know".
The most important thing you should do is read the labels carefully of any
product you take.† Also, ask your doctor or pharmacist about how any new medicine
will interact with products you are already taking.† Most people aren't aware
that any medicine they take may interact with other medicines, or even with
certain foods and beverages.† Sometimes the effect of these interactions causes
the medicine's effect to increase or decrease; sometimes the effect can cause
a medicine not to work at all.† Sometimes the interaction may cause a serious
side effect.†† For example, many women are not aware that if they take birth
control pills and then take a prescription for certain antibiotics, they must
use a back-up method or risk pregnancy.† Many women who take estrogen replacement
therapy are not aware that they shouldn't wash it down with grapefruit juice,
which can decrease estrogen's effectiveness.
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Created: 3/5/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.