Those new to the gluten-free diet may find it overwhelming when faced with the long list of foods and ingredients that are no longer on the menu. Many may be surprised to discover that some unexpected items, like toothpaste or medicine, may also be on that list.
In fact, some prescription drugs and even non-prescription medication may be made with gluten. Meaning there is a chance they could cause distressing symptoms for those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance.
However, there is good news. The majority of medications do not contain gluten, but it’s always smart to take precautions, especially if you’re looking to avoid unwanted symptoms.
Determining whether or not a medication contains gluten can be tricky. Right now, there are no laws in place requiring drug manufacturers to label drugs made with gluten. That could be changing though. In April 2019, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio introduced a bill into Congress that if passed would require that all medicines containing gluten be labeled as such. Learn more about the bill and how to support getting it made into law here.
According to bill’s sponsors, if passed it “will make it easier to identify gluten in prescription drugs” and “will allow concerned consumers to know, for example, if the starch in their prescription drugs comes from wheat or corn; that small distinction is an important one.”
In the meantime, those concerned about whether or not there’s gluten in their medicine should contact drug manufacturers for more information. Alternatively, a good pharmacist could serve as a valuable resource for figuring out whether gluten was used to make medicine. For more on how your pharmacist can help, see here.
So, just how does gluten get in medication in the first place? While it’s rare for gluten to be used in a medication itself, drug makers may use wheat starch to bind the pills together. These ingredients are called excipients. To avoid ingesting gluten from medication be sure to review a medication’s inactive ingredients and whether or no gluten was used in any of the excipients.