FRIDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDayNews) -- Fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan could lead to problems for Muslims taking oral prescription drugs, says an article in this week's issue of the British Medical Journal.

This year, Ramadan begins Oct. 15. During this month, adult Muslims must refrain from consuming any food, beverages and oral drugs between dawn and dusk. Many Muslim patients who have chronic diseases choose to fast even though Islamic rules say they don't have to, the article noted.

Several studies have found that during Ramadan many Muslim patients modify the times of their prescription drug doses, the number of doses, time span between doses, and total daily dosage. This is often done without seeking medical advice.

These actions can modify the behavior of drugs in the body, resulting in treatment failures, the article said. Delayed drug absorption, drug-food interactions, and problems with side effects have been documented among Muslims who altered their prescription drug regimens during Ramadan.

The authors of the article suggest that more studies need to be done to develop clear guidelines about how prescription drug use may be modified during Ramadan. For now, doctors and scientists should be encouraged to monitor their Muslim patients with chronic diseases during Ramadan.

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--Robert Preidt

SOURCE: British Medical Journal, news release, Oct. 1, 2004

Last Updated: Oct-01-2004