Fasting during Ramadan could cause problems for Muslim patients

September 30, 2004

Fasting from dawn to dusk during Ramadan could cause problems for Muslim patients taking prescribed drugs, warn researchers in this week's BMJ.

During the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which begins on 15 October 2004, adult Muslims are required to refrain from taking any food, beverages, or oral drugs, between dawn and dusk. Patients with chronic diseases often insist on fasting even though they are permitted not to by Islamic rules.

Several studies have shown that patients arbitrarily modify the times of doses, the number of doses, the time span between doses, and even the total daily dosage of drugs during the month of Ramadan, often without seeking any medical advice.

This behaviour could alter the activity of drugs in the body, leading to therapeutic failures, say the authors. For instance, studies have found delayed absorption, problems with side effects, and drug-food interactions during Ramadan.

They suggest that further studies should be carried out to provide more guidelines about the ways in which the administration of drugs should be modified. In the meantime, doctors and scientists in the Muslim world should be encouraged to follow up their patients with chronic diseases during Ramadan, in order to establish optimal dosage regimens.

Consensus on these issues would allow health professionals to provide accurate and standardised advice on the appropriate use of drugs during the holy month of Ramadan, they conclude.


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