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Drug Interactions

Prevent harmful interactions with these tips


Updated September 12, 2006

Facts about drug interactions:
  • A drug interaction is a change in the way a drug works or the effect it has on your health, due to the effects of another drug or substance you are taking. Other medications (including over the counter medications), herbal medications, alcohol and some foods can interact with prescription medications.
  • There are different types of interactions. Some interactions may increase the effect of the medication to dangerous labels; this can happen with pain medications and alcohol. Other interactions may mean that the medication does not work as well or the therapeutic effect of the medication is diminished. NSAID pain medications such as ibuprofen can reduce the heart healthy effects of aspirin.
  • Be sure to tell every doctor you see, each and every medication you are taking. This includes your dentist. If you are prescribed a medication that you know may interact with one you are already taking ask your doctor about it.
  • Read medication labels before you take any drug. The label will give you the information you need about dos and don't when it comes to taking different medications.
  • Leave all medications in their original container. If you are unable to speak and emergency health care provider will have a good idea of the medications you are taking if they are in the original containers.
  • If you end up having a drug interactions that was previously unknown, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration has a protocol for reporting this and adding the warning to the drug information.

SOURCES:FDA, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, 2006

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