Drug Interactions-Principles, Examples and Clinical Consequences Reply

Institute of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology at the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein.
Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Impact Factor: 3.52). 08/2012; 109(33-34):546-556. DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2012.0546
Source: PubMed


Drug interactions can have desired, reduced or unwanted effects. The probability of interactions increases with the number of drugs taken. The high rate of prescribed drugs in elderly patients (65-year-old patients take an average of 5 drugs) increases the likelihood of drug interactions and thus the risk that drugs themselves can be the cause of hospitalization. According to meta-analyses, up to 7% of hospitalizations are drug-related.

Selective literature review.

Drug interactions occur on pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic levels. Examples of pharmacodynamic interactions are simultaneous administration of a NSAID and phenprocoumon (additive interaction), or of aspirin and ibuprofen (antagonistic interaction). Pharmacokinetic interactions occur at the levels of absorption (e.g., levothyroxine and neutralizing antacids), elimination (e.g., digoxin and macrolides), and metabolism, as in the competition for cytochrome P450 enzymes (e.g., SSRIs and certain beta-blockers).

The systematic knowledge of drug interaction, in particular on the level of absorption, elimination, transport and drug metabolism may help to prevent adverse effects. Predicting pharmacodynamic interactions often demands a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of effect. Electronic prescribing systems are helpful.

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    • "Prescription of drugs is one of the health care system’s most important methods to treat, relieve and sometimes cure diseases. Nevertheless, prescription drug treatment may carry risks such as adverse drug reactions, interactions and polypharmacy [1], circumstances that may lead to hospital admission [2,3]. Beyond the fact that treatment with prescription drugs may cause patients to suffer from side effects, these unwanted effects are the source of substantial expenses to society. "
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