Pharmaceuticals

Important Reminder: The FDA has no requirements for labeling of the gluten risk in any medication. Errors sometimes occur on the lists below, drug formulation changes, or the suppliers of ingredients change.

The best way to determine if a drug is gluten free is to call the company yourself or have a pharmacist do so. The Wheaton list provides phone numbers for some of the pharmaceutical companies. Otherwise, you may have to "Google" it once you have determined who the manufacturer is. Your pharmacist can determine who the manufacturer is for you. Unfortunately, often the manufacturers of generic drugs do not have as easily determined information as name-brand.

Additional GF Pharmaceutical Lists Info./Discussions about GF drugs

Additional gluten-free pharmaceutical lists

  • Gluten Free Drugs website : www.GlutenFreeDrugs.com. This site is maintained by clinical pharmacist Steve Plogsted. This site includes a list of GF excipients to figure out what the safe fillers are.

  • Walgreens: A link to a PDF of their over-the-counter products gluten-free drugs can be found on the www.glutenfreedrugs.com site on the Home page.

Information/discussions about GF drugs:

  • Flyer for pharmacists - PS_Celiac_Flyer.pdf
  • Tips from a Phamacist (Steven Plogsted) - PlogstedArticle.pdf
  • Gluten-in-Medications (National Foundation for Celiac Awareness site)
  • Discussion about pharmaceutical questions from Beth Hillson, President of the American Celiac Disease Alliance.
  • Intravenous drugs: "You don't have to worry about any intravenous drugs. They are all gluten free". Gluten-Free Living magazine, Number 4, 2008, page 19. RMJ's note: Furthermore, since intravenous drugs by-pass the digestive system, they are okay for celiac patients.
  • Information about Mannital, malitol, zyltol, etc.
  • Drug ingredients: An article in the Celiac Disease Foundation newsletter, Spring 2013, listed seven ingredients in medications that should be investigated further if their source is not specified: dextrins, dextrates, dextri-maltose, maltodextrin, modified starch, pregelantinized starch and sodium starch glycolate. All of these could be made from sources such as corn, but they could also be sourced from a gluten-containing grain.

Info from Pharmacist Steve Plogsted in Gluten-Free Living, Fall, 2012

  • The generic version of a drug is not more or less likely to be gluten free compared to the brand-named product.
  • Intravenous drugs in hospitals do not contain gluten
  • The only product that has gluten in the coating is Tricor medication by Abbott. It is made from wheat starch. He has not found any other coatings on pills with gluten in them.

Comment from Steve Plogsted (who does the website GlutenFreeDrugs.com) emailed to the Listserv on 2/18/12:

"If things haven't been confusing and difficult enough when calling drug companies about gltuen in their medications, many of these companies are giving false information, claiming that their products contain gluten, when, in fact, they do not. Inactive ingredients such as mannitol, malitol, xyltol, sorbitol, sorbitane and other sugar alcohols CAN be derived from wheat, but do not actually contain any gluten; they are purified. These ingedients when taken in large amounts an cause significant abdominal discomfort, but it is not due to gluten. Be sure to ask these drug comopanies which one of the ingredients is the source of the gluten and if they tell you it is one of these, they are giving you false information."

Discussion in February 2009 by Beth Hillson, Founder of the Gluten Free Pantry and President of the American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA)

"Your pharmacist has access to a large resource book called “Physicians Desk Reference” or PDR. Every medication (prescription and OTC) is listed along with a consumer number to call with questions. I highly suggest you contact the drug manufacturer directly and verify the gluten-free status of any drug you are taking. Even the minute amounts in a pill, taken regularly, can cause problems. Note, you can also go to www.pdrhealth.com to find out the manufacturer of a particular medication. I did not find phone numbers on their site, however, so you might need to search further on the internet.

As for the FDA, they have not tackled the medication issue as yet. A couple of years ago, the American Celiac Disease Alliance introduce a bill to include such disclosure, but the bill did not pass. The Alliance keeps working on that issue as it is a big concern for so many. Meanwhile, the good news is that more and more vitamins and supplements are voluntarily labeling their products as “gluten-free” and “contains no wheat or gluten.” I think you’ll see drug companies following suit."


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