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One of the factors that can alter the response to drugs is the concurrent administration of other drugs. There are several mechanisms by which drugs may interact, but most can be categorized as pharmacokinetic (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion), pharmacodynamic (additive, synergistic, or antagonistic effects), or combined interactions. The general principles of pharmacokinetics are discussed in Chapters 3 and 4; the general principles of pharmacodynamics in Chapter 2.

Botanical medications (“herbals”) may interact with each other or with conventional drugs. Unfortunately, botanicals are much less well studied than other drugs, so information about their interactions is scanty. Pharmacodynamic herbal interactions are described in Chapter 64. Pharmacokinetic interactions that have been documented (eg, St. John’s wort) are listed in Table 66–1.

Knowledge of the mechanism by which a given drug interaction occurs is often clinically useful, since the mechanism may influence both the time course and the methods of circumventing the interaction. Some important drug interactions occur as a result of two or more mechanisms.

TABLE 66–1Important drug interactions.

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