Posted by Dr. Lori Arnold
Is my prescription or over the counter medication gluten-free? This is an excellent question that is often overlooked! The gluten content in our pills may be very small, but even the smallest amount could prove dangerous to the 1 in 133 Americans who suffer from Celiac Disease. In addition, depending how sensitive you are to gluten, another 18 million or more Americans have gluten sensitivities.
Were you even aware that your medication contained gluten as one of the “fillers”… probably NOT! Even in very, very small amounts, for someone with celiac disease, a little amount of gluten can cause
gastrointestinal upset, headache, weight loss, osteoporosis, depression, and infertility. This has been shown to have adverse effects at even 30 mg to 50 mg of gluten (about the amount in a lip balm)!
In 2013, Ohio State Representative Tim Ryan introduced a bill in that would require companies to disclose gluten as an ingredient in medication labels. It was reintroduced again by Rep. Ryan and New York Congressman Nita Lowey in 2015, but GovTrack.us stated that it had a 0% chance of being enacted!!! A 0% chance of being enacted, folks! Because the government does not mandate that pharmaceutical companies list gluten content on the medication label, it is left up to each individual to contact the manufacturer to find out if the product is SAFE for them.
It gets more complicated as the ingredient list does not list “gluten” as the ingredient, but could instead list the content under ingredients like starch…. In fact, the FDA doesn’t require products to list gluten as an allergen if the protein is found in inactive ingredients like starches or starch derivatives, or if it’s transferred in the manufacturing process. AND, the ingredients ARE NOT the same in name brand vs. generic products, therefore, you need to check on each and every pill you are on, regardless if the branded product does not contain gluten. For instance, Protonix name brand is gluten-free, however, the generic Pantoprazole manufactured by Teva is NOT gluten-free. You may need to call your health insurer to find out how to get access to a brand-name drug if the generic contains gluten.
Find a detailed list of gluten-free drugs found in the Top 200 drugs of 2015 at: Gluten-Free Medication List