Drug Interactions in Space: a Cause for Concern?

Erez Berman, Sara Eyal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Purpose: Crewmembers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have free access to an increasing number of medications within medical kits. The aim of the current study was to assess the number, severity and reliability of potential drug-drug interactions (DDIs) involving those medications. Methods: We evaluated the information obtained from clinical decision support systems. Searches for potential DDIs were applied to published lists of medications available to US astronauts in medical kits aboard the ISS. Results: A total of 311 potential DDIs were identified by Lexi-Interact, of which approximately half were recognized by Micromedex as well. Major, moderate and minor interactions consisted 23.5%, 68.5% and 8.0% of entries, respectively. The reliability of 71.1% of alerts was fair. Commonly used drugs, including zolpidem and zaleplon, were involved in multiple potential interactions that were classified as major based on additive CNS depression. Conclusions: Most potential DDIs likely to be encountered in space are unestablished even in terrestrial medicine and their assignment is based on class-effects. Yet, some drug combinations may be associated with clinically-relevant consequences. Future DDI rating should be adjusted to space-related outcomes. Until that happens, it would be advisable to avoid non-established drug combinations in space when possible.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number114
JournalPharmaceutical Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • International Space Station
  • clinical decision support systems
  • drug-drug interactions
  • space flight


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