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FDA Alert: Grapefruit & Medications, A Dangerous Mix

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  February 27, 2012 01:02 PM

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Source:  FDA
If you are taking Allegra, Lipitor, or other over-the-counter and prescription medicines, think twice before consuming these drugs along with grapefruit juice.   According to Shiew Mei Huang, the acting director of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Clinical Pharmacology, this fruit and drug interaction can be dangerous as grapefruit juice can affect the absorption of certain medications, and thus, the level of the drug in the blood.

In the case of the cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, such as Zocor, Pravahol, as well as Lipitor, substances in grapefruit juice block an enzyme in the gastrointestinal tract, which interferes with the drug’s metabolism, so more of the drug is absorbed in the blood.   Higher blood concentrations of these drugs can cause adverse effects in the body, such as liver damage and kidney failure.  Seville oranges and tangelos can also affect this enzyme.

The opposite effect can happen with fexofenadine, the drug in Allegra.  Substances in the grapefruit juice block protein transporters that are needed to get this antihistamine into the body cells.  Because of this, the medicine ends up being less effective in the body.  Apple and orange juice can also interfere with fexofenadine so allergy sufferers should avoid these combinations, according to the FDA.
Source:  FDA

According to the FDA, grapefruit juice and grapefruits can interfere with:

•    Some blood pressuring-lowering drugs, such as Nifediac and Afeditab
•    Some statin drugs that lower cholesterol such as Zocor, Lipitor, and Pravachol
•    Some anti-anxiety drugs, such as BuSpar
•    Some anti-arrhythmia drugs, such as Cordarone and Nexterone
•    Some organ transplant rejection drugs, such as Sandimmune and Neoral
•    Some antihistamines, such as Allegra

Since the effects of grapefruit juice or grapefruits linger long after they are consumed, it is best to avoid these juices and whole fruit altogether when taking the above drugs.  Should you currently be taking any medications, check with your pharmacist or health care provider to make sure that consuming these drugs with grapefruit juice or grapefruit will not cause an unhealthy interaction.
Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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