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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    ABSTRACT: It has been reported that there is a difference in drug prescription between males and females. Even after adjustment for multi-morbidity, females tend to use more prescription drugs compared to males. In this study, we wanted to analyse whether the gender difference in drug treatment could be explained by gender-related morbidity. Data was collected on all individuals 20 years and older in the county of Ostergotland in Sweden. The Johns Hopkins ACG Case-Mix System was used to calculate individual level of multi-morbidity. A report from the Swedish National Institute of Public Health using the WHO term DALY was the basis for gender-related morbidity. Prescription drugs used to treat diseases that mainly affect females were excluded from the analyses. The odds of having prescription drugs for males, compared to females, increased from 0.45 (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.44-0.46) to 0.82 (95% CI 0.81-0.83) after exclusion of prescription drugs that are used to treat diseases that mainly affect females. Gender-related morbidity and the use of anti-conception drugs may explain a large part of the difference in prescription drug use between males and females but still there remains a difference between the genders at 18%. This implicates that it is of importance to take the gender-related morbidity into consideration, and to exclude anti-conception drugs, when performing studies regarding difference in drug use between the genders.
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