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Ethnic difference in drug reaction

5th May 2006

05052006_pillsred1.jpgA study published on bmj.com finds that some ethnic groups may be more susceptible to adverse drug reactions (ADRs), which are an important cause of ill health and death.

Several factors including genetic make up, age, sex, and diet, can all alter a patient’s susceptibility to ADRs. It is not known to what extent susceptibility to ADRs might depend on ethnic group, whether as a result of genetic or cultural factors.

Researchers identified 24 studies that included data for adverse reactions to cardiovascular drugs for at least two ethnic groups. They found that the risk of angio-oedema (swelling) with blood pressure lowering drugs was three times greater in black patients than non-black patients. The risk of cough was nearly three times higher in East Asian patients compared with white patients. The risk of bleeding in clot-busting therapy increased 1.5-fold in black compared with non-black patients.

The authors say that some ethnic groups may be more susceptible to adverse reactions during treatment with cardiovascular drugs. The findings may help doctors present more accurate and relevant data to their patients when prescribing cardiovascular therapy. They add that differences in study quality and inconsistent reporting of harm means that these results need to be interpreted cautiously.

They conclude that future studies must report both adverse reactions and racial and ethnic classifications more fully, if we are to discover how they are linked.

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