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Right foods “may help drugs work”

Combining medicines with the right food could improve the effectiveness of drugs and reduce the costs of treating patients, experts say.

The comments come after research showed taking a breast cancer drug with fatty food, rather than on an empty stomach, boosted absorption of the drug. This means patients could take lower doses, which would reduce costs.

The comments were made by oncologists from the University of Chicago in a Journal of Clinical Oncology editorial.

Professors Mark Ratain and Ezra Cohen said recent findings about the interactions between foods and anticancer drugs could be exploited to help decrease costs and increase the benefits from such drugs. Researchers have found that taking the breast cancer drug lapatinib (TYKERB) with food, rather than on an empty stomach as suggested on the label, increased the availability of the drug in the body by 167%, meaning the drug could work more effectively. And taking it with a meal rich in fat boosted levels by 325%.

Professor Ratain said: “Simply by changing the timing, taking this medication with a meal instead of on an empty stomach, we could potentially use 40% of the drug.”

Drinking grapefruit juice, which is known to increase the rate at which some drugs enter the blood stream, at the same time could increase these savings even further. And eating such “value meals” at the same time as taking drugs could have other benefits too.