Grapefruit drug problems impact farmers

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SARASOTA - When it comes to grapefruits, John Albritton knows more than most; his family has been growing and selling them for more than a hundred years.

"There's only two kinds of grapefruit," said Albritton, "you know you've got your red grapefruit and your white grapefruit."

He's known that some drugs can have harmful side effects when taken with grapefruit, Tuesday's news caught even him off-guard.

"It kind of surprised me how much it grew," said Albritton, "from what I read it went from 17 to 85 drugs on the list."

Scientists out of Canada now say even more drugs than previously thought can have serious, even deadly effects, when consumed with grapefruit juice in a person's body.

"The grapefruit juice works in the liver where the grapefruit juice is metabolized and when it's metabolized, the other drugs are not metabolized and that makes them more potent," said pharmacist Mike Pass, "they don't get out of the body as rapidly."

These drugs include statins, for lowering cholesterol, as well as some antibiotics, narcotic painkillers, and anti-depressants.

"You're not going to get reactions with all drugs on grapefruit juice, but a fairly decent amount of drugs do interact with grapefruit juice," said Pass.

And while the medical community is concerned, so too are local growers like Albritton.

"I'm sure this will affect the sales part of it, but we're more concerned about the health of our consumers," said Albritton, "most of our clientele is the elderly community who obviously take a lot of medications."

He understands the concern but says before you toss grapefruits to the curb, give your doctor a call first.