Alcohol could intensify the effects of some drugs in the body

(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists are reporting another reason — besides possible liver damage, stomach bleeding and other side effects — to avoid drinking alcohol while taking certain medicines. Their report in ACS’ journal Molecular Pharmaceutics describes laboratory experiments in which alcohol made several medications up to three times more available to the body, effectively tripling the original dose.

Christel Bergström and colleagues explain that beverage , or ethanol, can cause an increase in the amount of non-prescription and prescription drugs that are “available” to the body after taking a specific dose. Alcohol can change how enzymes and other substances in the body interact with many of the 5,000 such medications on the market. Some of these medications don’t dissolve well in the gastrointestinal tract — especially in the stomach and intestines. The researchers sought to test whether ethanol made these drugs dissolve more easily. If so, this would make the drugs more available in the body, possibly intensifying their effects when combined with alcohol.

To find out, the scientists used a simulated environment of the small intestine to test how rapidly medications dissolved when alcohol was and was not present. Almost 60 percent of the 22 medications in their tests dissolved much faster in the presence of alcohol. In addition, they found that certain types of substances, such as those that were acidic, were more affected. Some common acidic drugs include warfarin, the anticoagulant; Tamoxifen, used to treat certain forms of cancer; and naproxen, which relieves pain and inflammation.

More information: “Ethanol Effects on Apparent Solubility of Poorly Soluble Drugs in Simulated Intestinal Fluid”, Molecular Pharmaceutics, 2012, 9 (7), pp 1942–1952. DOI: 10.1021/mp2006467

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Drug use tied to fatal car crashes

Jun 23, 2011

It's well known that drunk driving can have fatal consequences, but a new study suggests that alcohol is not the only drug that’s a danger on the road.

Alcohol-related behavior changes -- blame your immune system

Sep 29, 2011

When you think about your immune system, you probably think about it fighting off a cold. But new research from the University of Adelaide suggests that immune cells in your brain may contribute to how you respond to alcohol.

Recommended for you

Discount generic drug programs grow over time

23 minutes ago

Generic discount drug programs (GDDPs, which charge nominal fees to fill prescriptions) have grown over time and their initial lower use by racial/ethnic minorities has evaporated, writes author Song Hee Hong, Ph.D., of the ...

Seniors successfully withdraw from meds

Sep 19, 2014

Elderly people have proved receptive to being de-prescribed medications, as part of a trial aimed at assessing the feasibility of withdrawal of medications among older people.

User comments