Emerging scientific evidence suggests that micronutrient intake in higher doses holds promise for roles beyond currently recognised health effects for selected individuals and population groups
Increased awareness of the role of vitamins and lipids beyond their nutritional range and their use in the pharmaceutical industry is important for the creation of innovative, safe and high-quality products that will support core therapeutic areas.
To further this understanding, healthcare professionals (HCPs) and scientists require reliable clinical data to increase their knowledge of drug-nutrient interactions (DNIs) on patient health.
DNIs are defined as deviations from the normal pharmacokinetics or pharmacodynamics of a drug or nutritional element, or a compromise in nutritional status because of the addition of a drug.1
They arise because drugs and nutrients can share similar mechanisms and pathways. Examples of when DNIs occur include statins, contraceptives and proton pump inhibitors.
Key studies describe the vital role that nutrition can play in clinical conditions and demonstrates the significance of DNIs on health. And, because of the ageing population and prevalence of chronic disease, the role of nutrients in combination with pharmaceuticals has an increasingly important role to play … and is something the industry should explore.
To achieve this, there is an urgent need to increase data and clinical observations of DNIs on a case-by-case basis to help bridge the gap between science and practice.
Limited clinical research in the field and acknowledgement of DNIs in the pharmaceutical industry has made it challenging to observe the effects of DNIs in patients. However, several associations have been made between certain drugs and nutrients, shaping future research in this area.
The evolving role of vitamins and lipids as active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to treat chronic disease creates huge potential to bring new therapeutic concepts to market. There is strong scientific evidence that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fatty acids may provide health benefits, including better cancer treatment outcomes.2
This was observed in a recent trial, which demonstrated a two-fold increase in therapy response rate and clinical benefit when patients were supplemented with EPA and DHA compared with patients undergoing the same treatment without supplementation.3
Similarly, application of intravenous high-dose vitamin C in cancer patients has been shown to enhance quality of life by improving physical, mental and emotional functions.4
Other notable DNIs involve non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen, and certain vitamins or lipids.
One study demonstrated that patients could reduce the dose of NSAIDs when consumed in conjunction with an adequate dose of EPA and DHA, which have proven anti-inflammatory properties, leading to reduced side-effects while still experiencing the clinical benefit of the drug.5
Clinical data on the effects of combining pharmaceuticals with supplements can support the development of safe individualised treatment strategies for patients. However, more investigation into the effects of micronutrient supplementation on health when used in combination with pharmaceuticals is needed.
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