As new and better medicines are developed, people are taking more medicines on a regular basis. (It is estimated that about 20% of people take 3 or more medicines for chronic conditions.) This is a good thing for improving health, but it also presents potential problems when medicines interact with each other, or they interact with foods, over-the-counter medicines, or dietary/nutritional supplements that people are also taking. That is why it is always important to talk with your doctor and pharmacist about your medicines and any other things you are taking.
To provide people with updated information on this issue, the FDA recently released a new Consumer Information document titled, “Avoiding Drug Interactions.” This educational material provides basic information to people, and also serve as a reminder for patients to discuss these issues with their physicians and pharmacist – which is one of the main messages from the FDA: “Keep all of your health care professionals informed about everything that you take.”
My only concern is that while these documents from the FDA are very good, they are still stretched thin and thus limited in their ability to disseminate this information. While the FDA works directly with pharmaceutical companies to distribute information about prescription medicines to physicians, for more general information directed at patients – as in this type of document – they still face challenges in disseminating them so they are widely used. Perhaps in the coming years, the FDA and outside groups will be able to develop better relationships for more organized ways to distribute this type of information.