A COMBINATION can be dangerous.

Simultaneous intake of medical drugs might jeopardize a patient, warned Dr. Andrea Carigma, a pharmacology professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy.

“Drug is any chemical substance used for diagnosis treatment and prevention of diseases,” she said.

Carigma stressed that there can be inherent negative implications or “side effects” of these chemical substances, which may pose a threat to a patient’s life.

She emphasized that when drugs with contrasting characteristics were ingested, a drug interaction happenst and hat might either improve or worsen a patient’s condition.

“Two drugs having different effects administered together may give either a better response or a harmful effect for the patient,” Carigma said.

The pharmacology professor warned that a patient’s defense could be torn down by drug-to-drug interaction, as some drugs could go as far as cancelling each other’s effects due to their contrasting properties.

As an example, she said patients having heart conditions who take in aspirin for protection against stroke must not take in ibuprofen, a drug used to ease body pain, as these two render each other ineffective.

“Ibuprofen cancels the effect of aspirin. As a result, the protection against stroke is lost and the patient’s life is put at risk,” Carigma said.

However, she clarified that the administration of two drugs together is relative to the patient’s condition, as some might need to take in more drugs to achieve better results.

“The administration of drugs always depends on the needs of the patients. Patients get different diagnosis. Some of them need more drug,” Carigma noted.

However, risk is increased when a patient takes in more drugs, because the inherent adverse effects of the drugs have the potential of adding up.

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“Some drugs prevent other drugs from being eliminated from the body. In effect, toxicity is heightened due to the increased concentration of drugs and their intrinsic effects could add up,” Carigma said, noting that people who have weak liver and kidney functions become more vulnerable to the hazards of drug interaction, as these two organs are vital in “cleaning up” the body.

“The liver plays a key role in the breakdown of drugs in the body, while the kidney is responsible for the latter’s elimination. If these organs become dysfunctional, the ability of the body to eliminate drug toxins is impaired.”

Meanwhile, she explained that adverse effects are not onlyrestricted to a drug interacting with another drug as thedrug interacting with ingested food could also cause harm, even most of drug overdose cases could be rooted at such interaction.

According to her, when sedatives or drugs which causedrowsiness are taken together with alcoholic beverages,could potentially lead to drug overdose or worse, death.

“Sedatives are intended to promote sleep. But when a person takes sedative hypnotic together with alcohol, which is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, his CNS function gets low,” Carigma said. “The CNS depression may be so severe that the patient really falls asleep and no longer wakes up.”

But she also stressed that drug interaction may also bring positive effects through a mechanism called synergism,where multiple drugs are intentionally prescribed together to get better results.

“The intention is to increase and improve the effectivenessof the drug for its therapeutic purpose,” Carigma said. “Some antibacterial drugs render better antibacterial property when combined.”

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Since drug interaction can be either positive or negative, Carigma advised that people must give more attention to its adverse effects as these may put one’s life at risk.

“We are more cautious on the negative."

She added: "Our vigilance is inclined toward it, because this poses a threat to [one’s]health and life.”

Carigma added that one of the best ways to combat harmful drug interaction is to not self-medicate and said that it is still best to seek help from medical authorities. Altir Christian D. Bonganay

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