Medications and the Gluten-Free Diet

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Staying gluten-free involves more than just dietary changes. While use of gluten as an ingredient in medications is uncommon, medications must also be evaluated for their gluten content. Many pharmaceuticals have an additional filler called an excipient, used to make a particular dosage form of the drug. These fillers are often made from corn, potato, or tapioca. However, some are derived from wheat or, rarely, barley. If you have doubts about the gluten-free status of a medication, it is important that you consult with your pharmacist and/or check with the manufacturer of the product.

The majority of drug manufacturers do not clearly label their products or packaging with information regarding the gluten content of their drug. Medications – whether prescription or over-the-counter – are not included in the FDA gluten-free labeling regulation which applies to FDA-regulated food products. In late 2017 the FDA issued a draft document on labeling recommendations for medications; as of May 2018 the guidelines were not finalized. If and when such guidelines are finalized, consumers may have easier access to information about the gluten content of medications. (Note that this document will constitute “guidelines” and not “requirements” for gluten labeling.)

Common Gluten-Free Pharmaceutical Excepients

 

Excipients which could be derived from wheat or barley

 

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This article has been assessed and approved by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.