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Grapefruit May Turn More Drugs Deadly, Scientists Find

If you kick-start your day with a glass of grapefruit juice, be careful.
If you kick-start your day with a glass of grapefruit juice, be careful.

Canadian scientists say the number of common prescription drugs that can interact badly with the tart citrus is climbing, with the potential for dangerous, even deadly, results.

Twenty-six new drugs that can cause serious harm when mixed with grapefruit have been introduced in the past four years alone, bringing the total to 43, said Dr. David Bailey, a clinical pharmacologist at the Lawson Health Institute Research Center in London, Ontario. That's an average of more than six new drugs a year.

"What I've seen has been disturbing," said Bailey, lead author on a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. "It's hard to avoid putting a drug out on the market that is not affected by grapefruit juice."


Joerg Beuge / featurepics.com The number of drugs that interact with grapefruit is climbing, with potentially serious results, scientists say.
More than 85 drugs that interact with whole grapefruit, grapefruit concentrate or fresh grapefruit juice have been identified, though not all have serious consequences. Those that do, however, can cause problems that include acute kidney failure, respiratory failure, gastric bleeding -- and worse.

"When I say sudden death, I'm not being sensational," said Bailey, who said 13 drugs may be lethal when mixed with grapefruit.

The heart drug dronedarone, or Multaq, for instance, has a very high risk of interaction when taken with grapefruit, which may cause a rare form of ventricular tachycardia or rapid heart rhythm, the researchers found.

Mixing the prescription painkiller oxycodone with grapefruit can cause serious breathing problems, and adding the fruit to a dose of the popular statin simvastatin, or Zocor, can lead to rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle fibers that can lead to kidney damage.

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