Services at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix  

Drug Interactions

Banner Family Pharmacy pharmacists  

Your Banner Family Pharmacy pharmacist can help answer questions you may have about using your medications in combination with others.

What Are Drug Interactions?
One kind of problem that may occur is called a drug interaction. There are three types of drug interactions.

  1. Drug-drug interactions occur when a drug interacts, or interferes, with another drug. This changes the way one or both of the drugs act  or causes unexpected side effects. The drugs involved can be prescription or over-the-counter medications and can include vitamins and herbal products. 
    • Sometimes when two drugs interact, the overall effect may be greater than desired.  For example, both aspirin and blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin®) help to prevent blood clots. Using these medications together may cause excessive bleeding.
    • Other times, the overall effect may be less than desired. For example, certain antacids can prevent many medicines (such as antibiotics, blood thinners, and heart medications) from being absorbed into the bloodstream. If this interaction occurs, the medicine may not work as well or it may not work at all. 
  2. Drug-food interactions occur when a prescription or over-the-counter medication interacts, or interferes, with something you eat or drink.
    • For example, drinking grapefruit juice while taking certain medications may increase blood levels of these medicines. 
  3. Drug-disease interactions happen when a prescription or over-the-counter medication interacts, or interferes, with a disease or condition that you have.
    • For example, decongestants, which are found in many cold remedies, may cause your blood pressure to go up. This can be dangerous for people with high blood pressure.

Preventing Drug Interactions
Your risk of having a drug interaction largely depends on how many  medications you are taking. Fortunately, most of these interactions can be prevented.

  1. Read the labels of all over-the-counter medicines. Look for the section called “Drug Interaction Precaution.” If you do not see it, do not assume that no interactions will occur. Read all the information carefully or ask your pharmacist to be sure.
  2. Tell all of the doctors and pharmacists you visit about all of the prescription medications and over-the-counter medications you use. Use a medication form and include your daily medications and those you use only once in a while. If you take vitamins or herbal products, be sure to write them down too. Share your medication form with your doctor(s) and pharmacist(s) each time you see them. 
  3. Before taking any new medication, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Ask whether it is safe to take the new medicine with other prescription medications, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, or herbal products that you are taking. Ask if there are any foods, drinks, or medications you should avoid while taking the new medicine. Never use prescription medicines that belong to another person, even if that person seems to have the same health problem you have.
  4. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on over-the-counter medicines. Your doctor or pharmacist will help you choose the medicine that best meets all of your health needs. If you can, buy your over-the-counter medicines at the same pharmacy where you have your prescriptions filled. That way, the pharmacist can check your records to see if the over-the-counter medications could interact with the prescription medications you take.
Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix
1111 E. McDowell Road
Phoenix, AZ 85006
(602) 839-2000
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