Medical malpractice lawyers often handle cases involving pharmacy errors, including overdose, the wrong dose, wrong drug, misfilled prescriptions, and other medication errors, including the occasional drug-drug interaction. Drug-drug interactions are the unintended consequences associated with using two incompatible drugs at the same time. Doctors are trained to avoid adverse side effects associated with drug-to-drug interactions, but they still occur as a result of medical mistakes.
One frequently overlooked drug that can interact with other drugs to create an unintended, adverse reaction is cannabis (marijuana). Cannabis may be consumed for medical reasons as an edible or smoked in its native plant form. In addition, the psychoactive component of cannabis, THC, can be extracted from the plant and administered in a number of ways. Cannabis has developed a reputation as being a harmless drug. However, when taken with other drugs, the results can be lethal.
Organ Transplant Recipients
One particularly serious risk is the interaction between cannabis and certain immunosuppressive drugs used to prevent organ transplant rejection. According to one author, “[o]rgan transplant recipients should be educated and cautioned about possible drug interaction between marijuana and immunosuppressive or anti-rejection medications, such as tacrolimus, which are vital for the protection of the transplanted organ (and of course the recipient).”
Interactions with Blood Thinners
Cannabis can also interact with blood thinning medications, like heparin, coumadin, or warfarin, eliquis. Blood thinners are used with a number of medical conditions, including deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, and atrial fibrillation (“A fib”). Blood thinners are essentially used to prevent clot formation when a patient is at an increased risk of developing blood clots. When marijuana is smoked, it can result in a severe cough which has been shown to develop a bleeding complication and certain patients who are on anticoagulant medications. This bleeding tends to occur in the retroperitoneal area which can result in impingement on nerves and potential paralysis and paraplegia. The risk of injury is particularly high when a patient is prescribed too much anticoagulation resulting in an abnormally elevated INR.
Ketamine has been shown to interact with cannabis in such a way as to inhibit the metabolism of cannabis. When a drug is not metabolized by the body and excreted, it can build up into potentially fatal amounts. An buildup of cannabis can result in a fatal dysrhythmia, which is a heart condition that can result in instantaneous death.
Contact an Attorney
The responsibility for avoiding fatal interactions with cannabis falls on both the pharmaceutical industry and the individual physician. The pharmaceutical industry must warn about all potential adverse side effects of medications including dangerous drug-to-drug interactions. Likewise, the prescribing physician must be aware of these potentially fatal combinations in order to alert patients to the potential risk. If you or a loved one has suffered injury or wrongful death as a result of a fatal drug-to-drug interaction, you should contact an experienced lawyer, like an Ohio medical negligence lawyer from Mishkind Kulwicki Law Co, L.P.A., as soon as possible. Time limits may apply.