Websites and smartphone applications developed by the University of Liverpool are at the forefront of helping healthcare professionals to safely prescribe medications for HIV and hepatitis patients.
Developed and maintained by researchers at the University’s Institute of Translational Medicine, www.hiv-druginteractions.org and www.hep-druginteractions provide a comprehensive drug interaction resource, which is freely available to healthcare workers, patients and researchers across the globe.
Many drug combinations have the potential to interact and this can affect patient safety or the effectiveness of treatment. For this reason, some drug combinations should not be given at all, while other drugs may be used together with caution.
The websites, along with accompanying apps Liverpool HIV iChart and Liverpool HEP iChart, provide a guide to interactions that may occur between different hepatitis or HIV drugs and over 600 co-medications that a patient may be prescribed, as well as recreational drugs and herbals.
Results are presented as a ‘traffic light’ system so healthcare professionals and patients can see at a glance whether or not its recommended for two or more drugs to be administered at the same time, as well as the evidence to support the recommendation.
Professor Saye Khoo, who co-founded the websites in 1999 with Professor David Back, explained: “‘People with HIV are now living much longer, but increasingly with other medical conditions for which they need treatment.
“The risk of drug interactions is significant: around one in four patients on treatment will have a potential interaction which could lead to harm. The list of possible interactions is simply too long to remember, and our software allows physicians to view thousands of potential interactions in just a few clicks, helping them to prescribe safely and effectively.”
Since their original launch, the sites have gained a strong reputation in both clinical and patient communities and currently respond to over half a million interaction enquiries a month from regions all over the world including North America, Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa.
The British HIV Association recommends that all GP letters regarding HIV patients in the UK should contain information about the HIV drug interactions website and the sites are recommended in over 45 international treatment guidelines for HIV and hepatitis.
Dr Anton Pozniak, a key opinion leader in HIV and clinical service director at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, said: “The HIV Drug Interactions website is a wonderful resource. It’s easy to use and it certainly influences my clinical practice. It’s the first place I go to check potential drug interactions and as soon as a new drug is approved, I’ll check the website. I’ve no doubt that it has optimised prescribing for people living with HIV.”
The websites have recently been relaunched with more user friendly interfaces and responsive designs. The accompanying smartphone apps have also been fully optimised for both Android and i0S and can be downloaded for free from the Apple store and Google Play. To date these have been downloaded more than 90,000 times.
In light of the success of these resources, and the need for drug interactions to be managed in numerous other clinical areas, the website team is currently exploring launching a new drug interaction website for drugs used to treat cancer.