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GPs not warning patients of warfarin interactions risk

More than a third of GPs are unaware of potentially dangerous interactions between warfarin and common herbal remedies used by patients, according to research by Dr Lindsay Smith.

His survey of 86 practices and 1,360 patients taking warfarin revealed that 9 per cent of patients were also taking garlic, gingko, feverfew, ginger and/or St John's wort.

But 34 per cent of GPs were unaware of interactions between these herbal remedies and warfarin. Only one in 100 GPs routinely asked about use of herbal or complementary medicines when prescribing the drug, according to findings presented at a Society for Academic Primary Care conference in Manchester this month.

Dr Smith, a GP in West Coker and research lead of the East Somerset Research Consortium, said: 'GPs should actively ask patients what sort of complementary medicine they are using.'

Learning enough about herbal medicine was vital for GPs to advise their patients responsibly, he added.

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