By Linda Homewood
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Consumers and health-care professionals seeking reliable information about food-drug interactions can turn to a new Web resource, according to a University of Florida pharmacy educator in natural products.
The Web site - www.DrugInteractionCenter.org
- houses a comprehensive database of grapefruit-drug interactions along with supporting scientific literature designed to be an easy-to-use reference tool for health-care professionals and patients.
"Food and other nutrients can impact the effectiveness of prescription and over-the-counter drugs with clinically significant results," said Veronika Butterweck, an assistant professor and co-director of UF's Center for Food-Drug Interaction Research and Education. She announced the new Web tool in a talk on pharmacists' role in informing patients about food-drug interactions at the American Pharmacists Association annual meeting April 3 in Orlando.
In 2003, UF and Tufts University pharmacology experts established the center, with funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and assistance from the Florida Department of Citrus, to bring together researchers in pharmacy, medicine and food science to identify and analyze possible food-drug interactions and their effects. Initially, the center's research efforts focus on grapefruit juice interactions, Butterweck said.
A 2002 questionnaire by Harris Interactive indicated that four out of five physicians and more than half of pharmacists surveyed did not have enough information about how certain drugs can be affected by grapefruit juice, one of the most commonly known sources of food-drug interactions.
"Since there is a lot of inaccurate and out-of-date information on Web sites, we developed DrugInteractionCenter.org
to provide health-care professionals with a credible resource on grapefruit-drug interactions, which they also can recommend to interested patients," said Hartmut Derendorf, co-director of the center and a distinguished professor at the University of Florida's College of Pharmacy. "Drug interactions with grapefruit are one of the most commonly misunderstood food-drug interactions. While certain prescription drugs interact with grapefruit juice, most do not."
The grapefruit juice effect was discovered in the 1980s when scientists learned that grapefruit juice inhibits the CYP3A4 enzyme, which metabolizes certain drugs. This interference may enhance the body's absorption of affected drugs, causing side effects.
The Web site features include:
* A listing of drugs that interact with grapefruit juice, as well as alternative, non-interacting drugs within the same drug classes that may also support a patient's therapeutic needs.
* Access to detailed scientific summaries of interactions, along with simplified summaries for patients.
* A list of more than 130 relevant research studies and links to the studies on PubMed.
* Distinguishable, color-coded levels of interactions using approved FDA guidelines.
* Pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic details of documented grapefruit juice-drug interactions.
* The history of grapefruit juice-drug interactions, including a summary of all discovered facts.
"The grapefruit industry has been fielding inquiries about drug interactions with grapefruit juice for years from concerned consumers who are reluctant to give up the potential health benefits of grapefruit juice," said Dr. David J. Greenblatt, center co-director and a professor and department chairman of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics at Tufts University. "DrugInteractionCenter.org
provides some possible therapeutic options that a health-care professional may want to consider making available to a patient that has concerns about altering their diet."
may help clarify information about drug interactions with grapefruit juice, Greenblatt said he strongly advises patients to discuss the prescription medications they are taking with their health-care providers.