Researchers have determined that consumption of grapefruit in combination with medication can cause a potentially deadly overdose. A substance in the fruit can prevent drugs from being broken down by the body, which can lead to dangerously high levels of the drug. Specifically, chemicals in grapefruits called furanocoumarins interfere with enzymes in the body that break down drugs, allowing much more of the drug to enter an individual's system. According to one researcher, one pill with a glass of grapefruit juice can be the equivalent of taking five to ten pills.
Reports indicate that drugs known to cause this interaction with grapefruit rose from 17 in 2008 to 43 in 2012, including drugs that treat high blood pressure and cancer. Adverse reactions caused by this combination of grapefruit and medication include kidney damage, altered heartbeat, stomach bleeding and sudden death.
As a personal injury attorney in Chicago, I believe that drug manufacturers must immediately begin warning patients of this dangerous combination. Many people consume grapefruits and grapefruit juice on a daily basis and would never expect that this otherwise healthy fruit could have deadly interactions with their medications. Therefore, drug manufacturers, physicians, and pharmacists must identify each medication that can react adversely with grapefruit and provide clear warning to patients who are prescribed these drugs.