Grapefruit Juice Can Have Dangerous Interactions With Some Meds

Eating a grapefruit or having a glass of grapefruit juice in the morning can be a healthy way to start your day – the fruit is high in vitamin C and potassium. But the FDA is reminding consumers that grapefruit can interact with many drugs and how they work in the body, especially if you have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat.

When grapefruit interacts with certain medications, the problem is that the juice causes too much of the drug to enter the bloodstream. That can lead to more side effects. For example, drinking grapefruit juice while taking statins such as Zocor (simvastatin) and Lipitor (atorvastatin), drugs used to lower cholesterol, can lead to too much of the drug remaining in your system, increasing your risk for liver and muscle damage that can lead to kidney failure.

Here are some types of drugs that may interact with grapefruit juice:

  • Some drugs that treat high blood pressure, such as Procardia and Adalat CC (both nifedipine)
  • Some organ-transplant rejection drugs, such as Sandimmune and Neoral (both cyclosporine)
  • Some anti-anxiety drugs, such as buspirone
  • Some corticosteroids that treat Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, such as Entocort EC and Uceris (both budesonide)
  • Some drugs that treat abnormal heart rhythms, such as Pacerone and Nexterone (both amiodarone)
  • Some antihistamines, such as Allegra (fexofenadine)

For a further list of drugs that interact with grapefruit, click here.

Grapefruit juice actually causes less Allegra to enter the bloodstream, which may hamper the effectiveness of the drug.

If you eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice and have concerns about it interacting with any of the drugs you are taking, talk it over with your doctor. You can also read the medication guide or patient information sheet that comes with your prescription drugs to see if there is a grapefruit juice warning. For OTC (over-the-counter) drugs, check out the Drug Facts label on the bottle.

If you have to avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice, pay attention to the labels of other fruit juices as they may contain grapefruit juice. Seville oranges, pomelos and tangelos can have the same effect on drugs as grapefruit, so best to avoid them if you know your drug can interact with grapefruit.


Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.


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