Infections that last

August 2009

Professional

Drug and herb interactions

Searching the web

Volume 38, No.8, August 2009 Pages 627-633

Felix W S Wong

Linda Lin

Chi Eung Danforn Lim

Background

Australian patients spend large sums of money on complementary medicine and therapy each year. General practitioners are often asked questions about whether prescribed medications will interact with complementary medications. What current internet resources can be accessed to assist in answering these questions?

Objective/s

This article looks at current internet resources that can assist GPs to answer patient questions about interactions between prescribed and complementary medicines.

Discussion

Many of the websites found in this study provided limited information and limited searchability. We found seven webistes out of 100 that met our selection criteria. A web portal, with risk categorisation of mild, moderate and severe for drug-herb interactions, can assist doctors in clinical decision making. Maximum benefits could be obtained by working corroboratively with the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

There are misconceptions that most herbs are ‘natural’ and ‘safe’.1 It is not surprising, given this misconception of safety, that potentially up to billions of dollars are spent by patients on complementary medicines (CM).2 All herbs have actions that may interact with drugs patients may be taking. The risk of drug and herb interactions may be especially severe for the elderly, frail or those taking multiple medications for chronic diseases. There are many reports, papers and websites that discuss information on drug and herb interactions.

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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