Medications are often crucial for maintaining our health, but every drug you take has potential side effects and may interact with other medicines. What do you know about these hazards?
Understanding Benefits and Risks:
Our guest, Dr. Russ Altman, suggests that physicians should exercise more restraint in prescribing and patients should ask more questions about the drugs they are expected to take. That way, everyone will have a better understanding of the balance of benefits and risks that accompany every prescription. Both doctors and patients also need to pay attention to potential drug interactions.
Learning about Drug Interactions:
Dr. Altman describes the unusual computer analysis that he and his students employed to discover an unsuspected interaction between the cholesterol drug pravastatin (Pravachol) and the antidepressant paroxetine (Paxil). This combination can raise blood sugar significantly. What other drug interactions are yet to be discovered?
When it comes to over-the-counter drugs, too many people assume they are perfectly safe. OTC medicines also have potential side effects and may interact with other medicines in dangerous ways. How can you find out more about the drugs you take on your own?
This Week’s Guest:
Russ Altman, MD, PhD, is the Kenneth Fong Professor of Bioengineering, Genetics, Medicine, and Biomedical Data Science at Stanford University Medical School. He also holds a courtesy appointment in the Department of Computer Science. Here are some helpful links for his work:
Lab page: http://helix.stanford.edu/index.html
The PharmGKB resource for pharmacogenomics http://www.pharmgkb.org/
Paper on drug interaction discovery from FDA databases and electronic health records http://tatonettilab.org/resources/tatonetti-stm.html
Paper on interaction between Paxil and pravastatin https://www.nigms.nih.gov/news/meetings/documents/russ_altman_article.pdf
Ted Talk on Drug Interactions https://www.ted.com/talks/russ_altman_what_really_happens_when_you_mix_medications
Ted Talk on Pharmacogenomics https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1iKibDqtck
You may also be interested in our post about the Chicago Tribune study of pharmacies dispensing without warning of deadly drug interactions. You can learn more about the frightening interaction between ACE inhibitors and co-trimoxazole here and here.
Listen to the Podcast:
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