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Ask Tufts Experts August 2015 Issue

Q. I was told that people taking statin medications for cholesterol should not consume grapefruit or grapefruit juice. Is this true? Is there any safe time span after taking my medication that I could have grapefruit?


A. The US Food and Drug Administration does indeed caution, “Grapefruit juice and fresh grapefruit can interfere with the action of some prescription drugs, as well as a few non-prescription drugs.” (See <www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm292276.htm> for the FDA’s complete statement.) But David J. Greenblatt, MD, professor of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics and Louis Lasagna Endowed Professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, who has studied these interactions, says, “Regarding the possible hazards of combining grapefruit juice and medications, be aware that a great deal of misinformation has made its way to the public domain. The medical and scientific facts are that very few medications interact significantly with grapefruit juice. Among the statin drugs, simvastatin is the only one for which a potential interaction with grapefruit juice might be of concern, and that combination should probably be avoided. All other statins can be taken safely with grapefruit juice—either together or separated in time—with no concern about a significant interaction.”

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