Gluten in Medicine? It is probably something you wouldn’t think of unless you have Celiac Disease or another medically prescribed gluten-free diet. But, if you have celiac disease, you need to consider hidden sources of gluten in just about anything, including medicine. And if you’re not feeling well and a doctor prescribes medicine, the last thing you want to think about is whether the medicine that’s supposed to make you feel better will make you feel worse… because of gluten.
The current situation
Some medicines – both over the counter and prescription – contain gluten.
But as of today, in the United States, there are currently no laws in place requiring manufacturers to label gluten in medications. It is very challenging for those with Celiac Disease or those who need to follow a medically prescribed gluten-free diet to ascertain if a particular medicine is safe for them to take.
The individual needs to reach out to the manufacturer, enlist the help of their pharmacist and read a long list if ingredients to try to figure it out. And many doctors and pharmacists aren’t aware of which medications contain gluten.
There used to be a website called GlutenFreeDrugs.com that listed gluten-free medications but I don’t believe it has been updated in a while and can’t confirm its current accuracy.
Why would there be gluten in medication?
According to Beyond Celiac:
- Gluten could be found in excipients or the binders that hold medicine together. Or they could be found in inactive ingredients which can be sourced from wheat, barely or rye.
- Importantly, “few medications actually contain gluten, but it is important that the ingredients of each medication are explored to find the source of excipients – and to verify the particular drug is gluten-free.”
- “The generic form of a medication may use different excipients than the brand name drug. Even if the brand name is determined to be gluten-free, the gluten-free status of each generic must be verified.”
Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act of 2019
In April 2019, Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) and Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4) introduced the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act of 2019 which if passed, would require gluten be labeled in all medications.
To see the entire text and current list of co-sponsors, click this link to Gluten-Free Watchdog.
To show your support of this bill, please contact your Congressional Representative and urge him/her to support the bill and consider co-sponsoring it.
The more bipartisan Congressional Representatives supporting and co-sponsoring this Bill (many representatives can co-sponsor a bill and it increases their support of it), the better the chance of this Bill reaching the House floor, and then making it to the Senate.
Gluten Free Watchdog has been providing great information including links to actual text of the Act, an updated list of Bill co-sponsors, different ways to contact your representative and a sample text you could send to your representative which was drafted by Congressman Ryan’s office.
It is super easy to send an email… Just find your representative using this link. Most representatives have sections on their websites where you can send an email regarding legislation.
Here is a sample of what you could say based on what I sent my representative. Fill in the blanks with your info (mother, father, grandmother, aunt, friend, etc):
Dear Representative ________,
I am writing to ask you to support and become a co sponsor of the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act of 2019. As a ________ of a child with Celiac Disease (a hereditary autoimmune disease whereby the body can’t process gluten a protein in wheat, barely and rye, and to which the only treatment is following a strict gluten-free diet), it is very important to me that the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act of 2019 get passed. My ________ was diagnosed with Celiac Disease in ________ and when he/she needs medicine, it is very difficult and laborious at times to track down if a particular medicine is in fact gluten-free. Passing the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act of 2019 is critical to the health and well being of my ________ and others who must follow a medically prescribed gluten-free diet.
Thanks for your support,
Gluten-free labeling of medication is critical to the health and well being of those who need to follow a gluten-free diet. So please spread the word that there is a Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act of 2019 and please contact your representatives regarding this important issue.