Celiac disease is a severe autoimmune disease whose symptoms are triggered by gluten consumption, so patients have to be careful about the food they come in contact with.
Wheat, barley, rye, and even some oats are on the list of the food people on a gluten-free diet steer clear of.
But, while celiac disease patients pay extra attention to food ingredients, it rarely crosses their minds to check medication for gluten presence. And, unfortunately, nutritional supplements, as well as prescription and OTC medications, can contain gluten.
For example, different binding agents and inactive substances in pharmaceuticals and supplements may be the potential sources of gluten.
Such substances include modified, pregelatinized, or modified pregelatinized starch, as well as dextrates, dextrin, dextrimaltose, and caramel coloring.
Besides gluten, they may also contain common food allergens such as corn, wheat, potato, or rice. And, unlike food, prescription medications and supplements aren’t required to include a list of potential allergens on the label.
So, caution is advised.
Even if a brand-name medicine is gluten-free, the generic forms don’t necessarily have to be too.
Luckily, nutritional supplements are generally easy to check for the presence of gluten as the increasing number of manufacturers started to include such information on the label. Even those that aren’t clearly labeled disclose such information on the official website.
Eventually, you may consult the pharmacist or phone the manufacturer to learn about the ingredients.
On a side note, in late 2017, the FDA started efforts to establish gluten labeling in medications. The idea was to require the labels of drugs intended for human use to list all ingredients derived from gluten-containing grains.
The first draft was discussed broadly, receiving many comments from the celiac disease community members.
Since then, the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act was introduced to the congressional floor in 2018 and the Senate in 2019.