It should be headline news. That’s the degree to which your safety is at stake.
But, of course, it isn’t—it’s buried in science news sites, with nary a mention in the mainstream medicine. Recent research out of the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy found that medication prescribers correctly identified fewer than half of drug pairs with potentially dangerous interactions.
Researchers sent a questionnaire to 12,500 prescribers (physicians, physician’s assistants, and nurse practitioners) in the United States. They were asked to classify 14 drug pairs according to whether or not dangerous interactions were possible.
The 950 respondents correctly classified only 42.7% of the combinations. Out of the 14 pairs, four of them were potentially dangerous—the majority of prescribers correctly identified only ONE of those four pairs.
Perhaps even more frightening, half of the 14 pairs were met with shrugs from over one-third of the respondents—they answered "not sure."
That’s reassuring! You trust your doctor to write out that prescription with your health in mind, but he just can’t be certain whether or not it will interact with other drugs you’re on! And we’re not talking obscure interactions, here, either. Some of them are very common. And some of them are very, very dangerous.
Researchers noted that taking sildenafil (Viagra) and nitrates, one of the pairs on the questionnaire, can be life-threatening.
It just goes to show—the only person really looking out for your health is YOU. You’ve always been told to let your doctor know all the medications you are taking, but that might not be enough. A little research might be in order.
I found a drug interactions checker here. You might want to check it out next you’re your doctor hands you that little slip of paper.
Ms. O’Brien has written for Nutrition & Healing, Healthier Talk and a variety of other natural and alternative health outlets. She believes in the power of natural medicine and her goal is to open people’s eyes to the benefits of alternative and integrative medicine.
Christine is passionate about helping people help themselves without having to turn to harsh drugs or invasive surgeries.
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