Health care professionals are being urged to use online resources to learn more about drug interactions between widely used complementary medicines and conventional pharmaceuticals.
With up to 60 per cent of the Australian population using complementary medicines experts from the Brisbane-based Mater Health Services (MHS) said pharmacists and doctors needed to be aware of what patients were taking alongside prescribed medication.
Although limited information about interactions between complementary and conventional medicines exists, an article co-authored by MHS senior clinical pharmacist Geraldine Moses and MHS associate director of pharmacy Treasure McGuire in Australian Prescriber, said a study carried out by MHS, Bond University and the University of Queensland had identified credible online resources.
“Despite the lack of hard data, health professionals still need to make reasonable recommendations to patients about potential interactions,” they said.
The 2008 study assessed the technical quality, content and clinical utility of 26 web-based resources and found there was a limited number that health workers could rely on for comprehensive interaction coverage.
“Two of the highest ranked resources [Natural Standard and the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database] were online subscription databases, both of which contained reasonably comprehensive complementary medicine-drug interaction checkers,” they said.
With up to 50 per cent taking complementary medicines in conjunction with a prescription medication the researchers said it was becoming increasingly important that pharmacists and doctors could identify and advise patients about potential interactions.
“As several herbal medicines and many prescription drugs are substrates, inducers or inhibitors of CYP isoenzymes or P-glycoprotein, interactions can ensue when they are used concomitantly.
“A classic example is St John’s wort, which has kinetic interactions with a wide range of drugs via the induction of CYP1A2, CYP3A4, CYP2C9 and P-glycoprotein. This lowers the concentration of the concomitant drug,” they said.