Hard to swallow

Hard to swallow

Drugs, foods can interact in harmful ways

August 26th, 2010 by Anne Braly in Health

Buddy Scallia ate grapefruit one morning and later tossed back a Crestor pill to help control his cholesterol.

Scallia, owner of Buddy's Shoe Repair in Hixson, is so fond of grapefruit that he compares his cravings to those of a drug addict.

"Especially the pink (grapefruit). I love them," he said.

He nearly went into withdrawal when a friend told him that grapefruit and Crestor do not interact well.

"I called my pharmacist right away and asked him if there was any interaction," Scallia, 73, said. "I figured a stitch in time saves nine. The druggist told me there was - that it (the combination of grapefruit and Crestor) could cause muscle or liver damage."

How certain foods interact with drugs is an important consideration when taking medicine, said Phil Smith, a pharmacist at Access Family Pharmacy on Hixson Pike.

"We have patients calling every day," he said. "It's standard procedure for pharmacists to warn people. In fact, by law all new prescriptions must be accompanied with a consultation by the pharmacist."

But Scallia says he goes a step beyond pharmacy consultations to ensure that the drugs he ingests are not counteracted by the food he consumes.

"I also pay attention and read the printout sheet that comes with the prescription, and I keep it in a bag with my pills," he said. "I still eat my grapefruit, though. I just have to wait two hours after I take my Crestor before I do."

The Food and Drug Administration website, www.fda.gov, notes that certain foods taken in combination with certain medicines can "delay, decrease or enhance" the absorption of a medication.