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Is There Gluten in Your Meds?
December 28, 2011
Do you soothe chapped lips with Carmex? Brighten your smile with Crest Whitestrips? Ease a headache with Motrin IB?*
A few weeks ago, The Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association posted a study where manufacturers of 41 nonprescription medications, including these three items, were contacted to see whether or not their products contained gluten. Researchers wanted to answer two questions: Is info about gluten content in over-the-counter drugs readily available? And how do gluten-free consumers get their questions answered?
Findings revealed what you may already know. Info about gluten content is available--but you won’t find it on any labels nor is it included in package inserts. You have to call to get it. So researchers did just that. They dialed up the manufacturers. Time spent on the phone ranged from a relatively easy 2 minutes (for Nicorette Gum, which GlaxoSmithKline reported was gluten free) to a lengthy 20 minutes (for McNeil’s Pepcid Complete, also reported to be gluten free).
There was a disturbing note gleaned from this study: Gluten status was listed on 6 company websites but the info on 4 of them differed from the info provided over the telephone by the manufacturer. The take-away lesson is that those with celiac disease should double-check directly with the manufacturer before ingesting any medication.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently doesn’t require labeling of the gluten content in medications (neither nonprescription or prescription)—but that’s changing soon, hopefully. Here’s the good news: FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) just issued a request for public comments about gluten in prescription and nonprescription drug products. Comments must be submitted by March 20, 2012. For more information, go to http://www.ofr.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2011-32551_PI.pdf
Is there gluten in your medicines? To answer this question, we go straight to the expert. We interview pharmacist Steve Plogsted, creator of the popular website glutenfreedrugs.com, in Living Without’s February/March issue for his advice and safety techniques.
How do you determine that your medicines are safe for you?
*According to the study, Carmex Original, Crest Whitestrips and Motrin IB are gluten free. (The manufacturer does not add gluten to Whitestrips but the product has not been tested.) To access the study “Determining the Gluten Content of Nonprescription Drugs,” go to http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/753350.