P.E.I. doctors, pharmacists deliver sour warning

Jim Day
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Eating a grapefruit or consuming its juices while taking certain medications could lead to gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney failure, depressed breathing and sudden death.

Doctors and pharmacists in P.E.I. are diligent in advising people on the latest potential harmful mixes, such as grapefruit, with certain medication, say local health field representatives.

Erin MacKenzie, executive director of the P.E.I. Pharmacist Association, says standard procedure calls for pharmacists to detail what a person can and cannot take with any given medication.

She made the comment following a warning in a new paper in the Canadian Medical Association highlighting that eating a grapefruit or consuming its juices while taking certain medications could lead to gastrointestinal bleeding, kidney failure, depressed breathing and sudden death.

“This isn’t anything new,’’ added MacKenzie.

“This is something that has been made known for at least 10 years.’’

However, the study notes that many patients and even doctors and pharmacists aren’t aware of the risks associated with consuming grapefruit while taking some medications.

More than 40 drugs, including anti-cancer agents, heart drugs and central-nervous-system drugs used to treat pain, schizophrenia and other conditions, can lead to significant problems if people on them consume grapefruit, cautions the Canadian Medical Association.

A spokeswoman for the Medical Society of Prince Edward Island says systems are in place in P.E.I. to communicate this kind of information to physicians.

“The article, while presented in the CMAJ (a journal received by all Island physicians, as members of the Canadian Medical Association), is certainly an important update for physicians’ attention and it is expected that the article coupled with the usual drug interaction communiqués issued to physicians by government and industry will ensure physicians are aware and most importantly, patients are safe,’’ she stated in an email to The Guardian.

“Physicians will reference that alert in the context of patients taking certain medications. Pharmacists, of course, play a very significant role in the relatively rare occasion when specific concerns regarding potential drug interactions are missed – or not previously known.’’

Organizations: Canadian Medical Association, P.E.I. Pharmacist Association, Medical Society of Prince Edward Island

Geographic location: P.E.I., Iceland

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Recent comments

  • WHAA
    November 29, 2012 - 13:24

    been in the news for a few decades.

  • Bob Macdonald
    November 28, 2012 - 18:48

    I have been taking flomax for years and not one pharmacist ever told me to not eat grapefruit and i have refilled my prescription at just about everyone of them. A quick google search reveals that I should be careful. I guess it proves health care in Canada isn't as good as we think. Thank you Guardian for raising awareness

  • Ray Mahar
    November 28, 2012 - 12:24

    Slow news day i guess! Problem- known for years. SOLUTION: --- Just dont eat Grapefruit. Tastes Crappy anyway.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    November 28, 2012 - 10:25

    Again, this is not news. News is short for new story. Even MacKenzie herself states in the article “This isn’t anything new,’’ added MacKenzie. “This is something that has been made known for at least 10 years.’’, “Physicians will reference that alert in the context of patients taking certain medications. Pharmacists, of course, play a very significant role in the relatively rare occasion when specific concerns regarding potential drug interactions are missed – or not previously known". If doctors and pharmacists really care about the people they treat they do more than just inform patients of "possible" side effects. We are the most over prescribed people in the world, due mostly and mainly to health insurance and medicare. Both the doctors and pharmacists have learned how to game the system to maximize their profits, and the pharmaceutical companies are actual drug pushers, pushing their drugs for other purposes than the drug was initially offered. This is done as a profit maximizer, plus they can apply to have patents renewed on the basis that the drug is being used for another glorious profit making condition.

    • Pete
      November 28, 2012 - 11:37

      "However, the study notes that many patients and even doctors and pharmacists aren’t aware of the risks associated with consuming grapefruit while taking some medications." If it brings awareness, then it is newsworthy.

    • Conspiracy
      November 28, 2012 - 12:06

      Yes Bill- it is ALL a conspiracy!!!! How do you SLEEP at night with everyone out to get you!?