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.
Some websites that sell medicine can be not state-licensed pharmacies or aren't pharmacies at all; or may give a diagnosis that is not correct and sell medicine that is not right for you or your condition; or won't protect your personal information.
The medicines that sold online can be fake (counterfeit or 'copycat' medicines); can be too strong or too weak, or have dangerous ingredients, or have expired (are out-of-date), or haven't been approved or checked for safety and effectiveness, can be made using non-safe standards, or not safe to use with other medicine or products you use.
There are more opportunities today than ever before to learn about your health and to take better care of yourself. It is also more important than ever to know about the medicines you take.
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.
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.
The most important enzymes in the liver that metabolize drugs are called the cytochrome P450 family of enzymes. These enzymes break down drugs when they pass through the liver or small intestine.
This phase of research in test tubes, known as in vitro studies, allows researchers to perform drug-interaction studies in labs by testing a drug with other drugs that have the same route. This has made the research faster and more accurate. If two drugs go through the same enzyme, the presence of one drug can prevent the metabolism of the other. So this allows you to look at the worst-case scenarios and ask: 'What if we put this drug with that one, knowing that they have the same route?'"
Health professionals also use computer systems with drug-interaction screening software, electronic prescribing, and other technology. Mark Langdorf, M.D., chair of the department of emergency medicine at the University of California, Irvine, says, "In a busy emergency room, you have to quickly find out what a patient is taking and how those drugs could interact with other treatments."
But it is good way -- consumers remind doctors of everything they take when they are prescribed a new medication. So a patient might say: "Now remember, I'm also taking birth control pills. Is there a risk of interaction with this new medicine?"
Drug interactions with other drugs includes both prescription and over-the-counter medicines. Tricyclic antidepressants such as Elavil (amitriptyline) and Pamelor (nortriptyline) can interfere with blood pressure-lowering Catapres (clonidine). Taking the antibiotic Cipro (ciprofloxacin) with antacids lowers Cipro's effectiveness.
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.
Drug interactions with food and beverages, for example, taking quinolone antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin with food and drinks such as colas, coffee, and chocolate that contain caffeine may cause excitability and nervousness. There can be a potentially fatal increase in blood pressure if food containing tyramine is eaten when taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors, drugs that treat mood disorders.
Examples of food with tyramine are cheese and soy sauce. Grapefruit juice should not be taken with certain blood pressure-lowering drugs or cyclosporine for the prevention of organ transplant rejection. Alcohol should not be taken with pain relievers such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or ibuprofen because of the increased risk of liver damage or stomach bleeding.