What medication must be taken before meals?

soberThe instruction to give a medicine on an empty stomach usually means taking it at least half an hour to one (or even two) hours before or at least two hours after a meal. The reason for this is mostly that the food components can lead to a reduction in absorption and bioavailability. If the drug is taken with food anyway, there is a risk of a loss or even a loss of effectiveness. The instruction “before eating” is not sufficiently precise and must be supplemented with the correct time interval.

synonymous: between meals


The instruction to take a medicine on an empty stomach usually means giving it at least half an hour to one (or even two) hours before, or at least two hours after, a meal. The complete information can be found in the patient information and in the specialist information.

This is why one speaks of taking it “between meals”.

With such agents, it is generally advisable to also take other drugs or food supplements at an appropriate time interval, as these can also interfere.

So sober does not refer to abstaining from alcohol. Whether this is also indicated must be assessed individually.

Reasons for taking it on an empty stomach

Why do drugs have to be taken on an empty stomach - i.e. not with food? Most often the reason is to affect intestinal absorption. The food components or the changed milieu can inhibit the absorption of the active ingredients into the bloodstream and thus reduce bioavailability.

Ingestion failure

If a drug that should be given on an empty stomach is taken with a meal, this can lead to a weaker effect or to a loss of effectiveness because the active substances are not sufficiently absorbed by the body and do not reach the site of action. The effect on bioavailability can be relevant (e.g. 30% or 50%).

In order to prevent mistakes, the specialists should draw the patient's attention to the correct intake. The right choice of words is important. “Before you eat” is not precise enough - it could also mean right before you eat. The information must be supplemented with the correct time interval.

Examples (selection) see also

before meals, regardless of meals

  • Medicinal product information (CH, D)
  • swell

Conflicts of Interest: None / Independent. The author has no relationships with the manufacturers and is not involved in the sale of the products mentioned.

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This article was last changed on 2.7.2017.
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