The University of Florida's (UF) College of Pharmacy and Tufts University of Medicine are working together to bring researchers in pharmacy, medicine, and food science to investigate known food?drug interactions and anticipate new ones. Research will be conducted at UF's Center for Food?Drug Interaction Research and Education. The researchers will first focus on the "grapefruit juice effect," a phenomenon that has garnered a lot of media attention since its discovery in 1989. Researchers have discovered that grapefruit juice interferes with the body's ability to break down certain drugs, increasing drug absorption.
"There's an immediate need for further research to identify exactly which drugs are affected by grapefruit juice and which ones aren't so that drug substitutions can be recommended," said center founder Hartmut Derendorf, PhD.
Additional support from the FDA and the Florida Department of Citrus will allow the researchers to develop a strategy that considers both the welfare of the public and the grapefruit industry. "Without up-to-date research providing factual information, patients sometimes feel they should avoid drinking grapefruit juice to be safe," Derendorf said. "This is not always the best solution since the juice contributes valuable health benefits."
Therefore, the researchers will provide specific guidelines and dosing recommendations, and educate the public about the risks and potential impact of food?drug interactions. Plans include disseminating information through the company's Web site (www.cop.ufl.edu/safezone/pat/citrus/); organizing scientific symposia on food?drug interactions at national meetings of physicians, pharmacists, and nurse practitioners; and maintaining a speaker's bureau for lectures and presentations to professional groups and consumers.