Drugs are among the most effective therapeutic tools available to doctors. Using them correctly thus has a crucial bearing both on the success and the cost of our health system. Tolerability and effectiveness can however be mitigated by undesirable side-effects and interaction with other drugs the patient is already taking. In the last few months various drugs have been withdrawn from the market in Europe and the United States because of hitherto unknown and potentially fatal "crosstalk" between drugs. Heidelberg scientists were centrally involved in the discovery of some of these interactions. As many of the detrimental effects are a function of the concentrations in which drugs are administered, a large number of them are avoidable. Thus drug security is more dependent than ever before on avoidance and early identification of potentially dangerous interactions. A new model project at the University of Heidelberg is designed to study recently discovered drug crosstalk and devise clinically usable dosage aids.
At the same time it sets out to develop a computer-aided expert system for the prevention, identification and communication of undesirable drug interactions to assist doctors in the avoidance and early recognition of risk situations. For the realisation of this project Heidelberg's Faculty of Medicine undertook major structural changes to its Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmaco-Epidemiology. Some days ago it reaped the reward for this large-scale effort: the Federal Research Ministry has approved an award of DM 2.8 million over the next 4 years to operate the project.
Interested readers can obtain additional information on drug administration and security from Internal Medicine Dept. No. VI of Heidelberg's University Hospital at Internet addresses http://www.med.uni-heidelberg.de/med/innereVI/index.html and www.med.uni-heidelberg.de/med/klinpharm/index.html .
For more information contact:
Prof. Dr.med. Walter E. Haefeli, University of Heidelberg,
Dept. of Internal Medicine VI (Clinical Pharmacology and Pharmaco-Epidemiology),
Bergheimer Str. 58, D-69115 Heidelberg
phone: 06221/568722, fax: 06221/564642
ORR Heiko Klase, Verwaltung des Klinikums Heidelberg,
Clinical Research Unit,
Voss Str. 2, D-69115 Heidelberg
phone: 06221/568990, fax: 06221/563502
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221 542310, fax: 542317