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Watch Out for Bad Medication Chemistry

Watch Out for Bad Medication Chemistry

Babe Ruth on team chemistry: “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

YouDocs on team chemistry: “The way two medications or supplements play together determines their worth for you—and when they don’t get along, watch out. You could lose your contest for better health.”

If you take more than one prescribed medication or over-the-counter drug, supplement or weight loss aid—or if you’re one of the millions of adults in North America who take at least five medications!—you want to be sure those meds have good team chemistry.  

What to watch out for: According to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine, the vast majority of dangerously interacting drug combos involve statins like simvastatin and antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel or warfarin; nonprescription medications or dietary supplements such as aspirin and omega-3 fish oil are frequently involved.

What to do: Half of older adults who take supplements never tell their docs or pharmacist about them. Big mistake. At least once a year have your pharmacist review your prescription and over-the-counter meds and supplements for potential conflicts. And at each appointment tell your doctor about every supplement, herb, over-the-counter medication or weight-loss booster you’re taking. Overlooking a dangerous combination can do more than dull the effect of a vitally needed medication -- it can be lethal. So speak up so you can live it up!

Medically reviewed in December 2018.

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