The National Consumers League (NCL) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have teamed up to alert consumers to the possibility that the medications they are taking could interact with foods, caffeine, and alcohol. 

With millions of Americans taking prescription or over-the-counter medications each day, the issue of interactions between medications and certain foods is of growing importance.

New brochure

"Avoid Food-Drug Interactions" is an updated version of NCL's very popular "Food and Drug Interactions" brochure. The renamed brochure contains new information, has been published in plain language, and is re-formatted as a guide for consumers to learn more about and avoid interactions.

"Despite how widespread our use of prescription medications has come, many Americans likely don't give a second thought to whether the foods they regularly eat and drink might make certain drugs less effective, or even pose the risk of dangerous interactions," said Sally Greenberg, NCL executive director. "Our new NCL/FDA brochure is a useful tool that anyone who takes medications should have access to."

"To take medicine safely, it's important to follow directions about what you eat and drink," said Janet Woodcock, M.D., director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Make sure you read the drug's label every time to avoid harmful food and drug interactions, and to get the most benefit from your medicine."

Examples cited

The "Avoid Food-Drug Interactions" brochure includes dozens of common medications and examples of interactions with certain foods, alcohol, and caffeine. The updated brochure also contains information on new medications including allergy treatments, pain therapy, and cholesterol-lowering therapy.

"Even within the same drug categories there are important differences. For example, some drugs may be less likely to cause interactions because they are metabolized differently than other drugs in the same category," said Rebecca Burkholder, NCL vice president for Health Policy. "Our brochure is a great resource to learn about your risk of possible interactions, but consumers must also talk to their doctors or pharmacists to ensure they take their medications safely."

Other examples in the brochure include which antibiotics should be taken with food to avoid stomach upset and information on foods, like fruit juices and milk, that may cause reactions with some medications.