Sometimes Drug Combinations Are Good

Published May 31st, 2016 by USA Rx
Fact Checked by
Chris Riley

The phrase “drug interactions” rarely describes anything you’d want to experience. When you find yourself taking multiple medications at once, the best you can typically hope for is that they “miss” each other entirely – neither of their primary effects have anything to do with each other, and so you can take them safely in whatever quantities you need. On the other hand, you have interactions like alcohol and just about any given sedative: combine the two and you could potentially relax to the point where you never wake up again.

However, sometimes two drugs can interact to create a stronger effect, or else one that you can’t achieve with just one or the other.

One important aspect shared by all multicellular life forms, from the biggest whale down to the smallest seed, is something called programmed cell death. Individual cells need to multiply in order to survive, but in multicellular life forms the larger organism has to work properly in order to hunt or gather food. That means it has to take on the right shape, and it can’t do that if the cells in a leaf or a leg refuse to stop growing. Thus, we have programmed cell death, or apoptosis, and when a cell forgets to die it can quickly turn into cancer.

Most chemotherapies work by inducing apoptosis, by causing all the short-lived cells in your body to kill themselves off ahead of schedule. Cancer breeds rapidly, and so the hope is that what happens to your hair will also happen to the tumor. However, what will often happen is the cancer cells will develop an immunity to the drug’s effects, rendering it useless.

Recently, a medical team in Australia started combining drugs mostly to see what would happen, and one combination, specifically between the cancer-fighter berinapat and emricasan, caught the researchers’ attention. Emricasan inhibits apoptosis instead of inducing it, and so when berinapat goes to work it instead causes necroptosis, an unusual middle ground between the planned death of apoptosis and the unplanned death of necrosis.

Normally, necroptosis only happens during emergencies like a viral infection (cellular suicide can stop viral reproduction), but this particular combination of existing drugs seems to be able to induce necroptosis safely in cancer cells. It’s certainly possible that the cancer cells will adapt to these drugs the same way they adapted to other chemotherapies, but even so, this may mean adding one more chance for remission among those with acute myeloid leukemia and potentially other cancers.

Unfortunately, while one drug is enough to hurt a person’s wallet, two or more may clear him or her out completely. But that’s why programs like the USA Rx pharmacy discount card exist: by sending us nothing more than your name and an email address, we can save you up to 75 percent off of virtually every drug in virtually every pharmacy across the nation. Your pharmacist will keep your discount on record as soon as you bring your card in, and you’ll be able to pick whichever price is lowest every time, whether it’s our price or your insurance’s. You can learn more by emailing us at [email protected], or you can call our number at 888-277-3911.

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