By Frances Kelley
In dealing with medications and celiac disease, you need to ignore everything you thought you knew about label reading. Labels for pharmaceuticals do not follow the same rules and regulations as labels for food.
Labels for medications can be found in the Physicians Desk Reference, the Web site for the manufacturer, and the package insert. Prior to filling a prescription the pharmacist should be able to let you look at the package insert. Most often the label and the ingredient list will not give you or your pharmacist sufficient information to determine if the product is gluten free. More research and a call to the company will be necessary most of the time.
Gluten, when it is in a medication, is most likely to be in the inactive ingredients or fillers. This means that various forms of the same medications will not have the same status, gluten free or not gluten free. When I say various forms, I mean the brand name and all the possible generic forms that are available. This can be a real challenge when your insurance is steering you to generic drugs.
In an emergency situation you may not be able to determine if a necessary medication is gluten-free. In these cases a parenteral (not entering though the digestive track) formula may be used. Most likely this will be in the form of an IV.
Finally, finding gluten-free medications needs to be a partnership between the doctor, the pharmacist, and the celiac. No one individual in this group can determine that on his/her own. We all need to work together.
The information on the following pages will really help you in your search for gluten-free medications.
“Poison in the Medicine Cabinet” – http://www.alamoceliac.org/actipspoison.html – (Alamo Celiac – Tips for Celiacs)
“Pharmaceuticals Guide” – http://www.alamoceliac.org/pharmaceuticalguide.html – (Alamo Celiac)
“Partial List of Gluten-Free Medications, Nutritional Products, and Vitamins” – http://homepage.mac.com/sholland/celiac/GFmedlist.pdf – (Wheaton Gluten-Free Support Group)
“Gluten-Free Drugs – http://glutenfreedrugs.com/ – (Steve Plogsted, PharmD)
“A Guide Through the Medicine Cabinet – http://www.celiacmeds.com/ – (Marcia Milazzo)
“Rx List – The Internet Drug Index– http://www.rxlist.com/ – Drug listings include inert ingredients (fillers)