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Keeping Patients Informed — Grapefruit and Other Uncommon Prescription Interactions

  • December 19, 2012
  • RPh on the Go

Keeping Patients Informed — Grapefruit and Other Uncommon Prescription Interactions

There are many medicines that interact with one another in adverse ways. It is a pharmacist’s job to understand, assess, and inform patients of these risks. Pharmacists also must check and double check medication to ensure that clients are receiving prescriptions that will not interact adversely with one another. Prescription interactions with one another are common, but there are some uncommon interactions even the most dedicated pharmacy may not be aware of.

One such interaction between prescriptions isn’t from another drug; it’s from grapefruit. Grapefruit and other citrus fruits have been proven to cause adverse reactions with certain medications. Grapefruit and other citrus fruits contain chemicals that can interfere with the enzymes that break down medications in the body. As a result, this can lead to increased levels of medication remaining in a patient’s body despite following dosing schedules. If a medication takes longer to break down in a patient’s system, this can cause a host of reactions. Pharmacies need to discuss this possibility with their patients and inform their clients if their prescription is one of the drugs known to interact adversely with grapefruit and other citrus fruits. This phenomenon is not only limited to the citrus fruits themselves, but may also extend to marmalade’s and compotes.

Drug interactions can present a variety of strange and unnerving symptoms in clients. One way to ensure patients get the right information is to review their enclosed materials along with their prescription at time of pick-up. Having patients read over their informational booklets while a  pharmacist can answer any questions they might have about potential drug interactions is key. Be sure that pharmacists know the entirety of a patient’s current medication to check for possible interactions. This includes over the counter medication and herbal supplements. If a patient fills scripts at multiple locations in your community, be sure that pharmacists have a client’s entire prescription history available to alleviate the risk of a possible drug interaction. Ensure that clients know which medications to take with food, and which not to. This can also help reduce the risk of complications a patient may have with a prescription.

Drug and food interactions with medication are common, but pharmacies must always be aware of the uncommon as well. Informing customers of strange interactions they might not be aware of, monitoring patient medical history, and keeping correct information on file are some of the ways that a pharmacy can continue to establish best practices and serve their communities.


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