The Internet has changed the way we live, work and shop. The growth of the Internet has made it possible to compare prices and buy products without ever leaving home. But when it comes to buying medicine online, it is important to be very careful. Some websites sell medicine that may not be safe to use and could put your health at risk.
First, it's important to carefully consider the source of information and then to discuss the information you find with your health care professional. These questions and answers can help you determine whether the health information you find on the Internet or receive by e-mail from a Web site is likely to be reliable.
You have to talk with your doctor and have a physical exam before you get any new medicine for the first time. Use only medicine that has been prescribed by your doctor or another trusted professional.
If you take several different medicines, see more than one doctor, or have certain health conditions, you and your doctors need to be aware of all the medicines you take. Doing so will help you to avoid potential problems such as drug interactions.
Drug interactions may make your drug less effective, cause unexpected side effects, or increase the action of a particular drug. Some drug interactions can even be harmful to you.
Reading the label every time you use a nonprescription or prescription drug and taking the time to learn about drug interactions may be critical to your health. You can reduce the risk of potentially harmful drug interactions and side effects with a little bit of knowledge and common sense.
Early in a drug's development, companies conduct research to detect or predict potential interactions between drugs. Experts evaluate the drug-interaction studies as part of assessing a drug's safety.
A drug may affect these enzymes by inhibiting them, which causes reduced activity of the enzyme and a buildup of the drug in the body. Or drugs may "induce" the enzymes, which causes increased activity of the enzyme and a reduction of the drug in the body.
It used to be that the only way to test for drug interactions was in people. Now drug companies can take five test tubes with the five major pathways for metabolism and put their drugs in to see whether it's metabolized by CYP450. This allows to generate a list of possible interactions based on their findings.
Researchers say there are several important variables that affect individual differences in how drugs are metabolized, including race, gender, age, and health conditions. For example, people with kidney or liver disease don't eliminate drugs from their system as well as people who are healthy. Very young children and older people have slower drug metabolism than others, and women may metabolize drugs differently than men in some cases.
Over the last several years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of drug-interaction studies the FDA sees in new drug applications. If drug interactions are significant enough, they can prevent a drug from being approved by the FDA. If the agency determines that known drug interactions can be managed and that a drug's benefits outweigh the risks for the intended population, a drug will be approved. Drug-interaction information then goes into the drug's labeling in the sections on "clinical pharmacology," "precautions," "warnings," "contraindications," and "dosage and administration."
So rather than asking patients what medications they take, doctors should make the questions specific: "Are you taking any over-the-counter medication? Are you taking any herbal treatments or vitamins?"
Some antibiotics, such as rifampin, can lower the effectiveness of birth control pills. Sildenafil, the active ingredient in the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra, should not be taken with nitrates for heart treatment because of the potential for dangerously low blood pressure.