How to Look for Gluten in Medications

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How to Look for Gluten in Medications

O.K., we all examine food labels and restaurant menus for gluten as thoroughly as a physicist searching for a new planet. But did you ever think to suspect your medication for the illness inducing substance?

Mostly, it’s not a worry, as the chances over-the-counter or prescription drugs are contaminated with gluten is extremely small. But maybe you should look anyway.

Starch can often be found in medicine and while they’re most frequently made from corn, they can be made from potato, tapioca, and very rarely, wheat. To check, look at the “excipients”, ingredients that are not the medicine itself. Other forms of starch are pre-gelatinized and sodium starch glycolate, which are also mainly made from corn.

No law mandates drug manufacturers disclose the source of these excipients. However, if you call and they tell you it’s derived from wheat, they’re probably referring to sugar alcohols, also known as polyols. These are highly processed sugars that contain no wheat gluten, such as mannitol, sorbitol, sorbitan, maltitol, xylitol, lactitol, erythritol, and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates.

Also unlikely is the potential for cross contamination between drugs in a manufacturing plant because the FDA tightly regulates the air quality and flow.

One drug, the high blood pressure medicine Benicar, can cause people to suffer severe gastrointestinal discomfort – avoid it if you can.

To help your search for the ingredients in your medication you might try the website for Pillbox, http:/pillbox.nlm.nih.gov/pillimage/search.php. To look specifically for wheat starch, try the database http:/dailymed.nlmnih.gov/dailymed/indexcfm.

Source: Celiac Disease Foundation
Pamela Hasterok