Gluten in medicines

Gluten is present in food items but can also be present in some medicines. As even small amounts of gluten can be unsafe for individuals with celiac disease, we would like to make you aware of the details here. We need to work together to bring changes and make medicines safe for all.

Medicines consist of 2 components – The chemical compound which helps cure us and the excipient or the inactive ingredient which gives the medicine its form. It is the excipient which could be derived from wheat or barley thus making these medicines unsafe for celiacs. Gluten can also be present as a result of cross – contamination during the manufacturing process if they come in contact with gluten containing ingredients used for manufacturing other medicines.

However, all injections, inhalants, topical and intravenous medicines which do not come in contact with the intestinal tract are safe.

In some countries, gluten free labeling laws are applicable to medicinal products too.We do not have such information for medicinal products manufactured in India presently but have written to our leading pharmaceutical firms urging them to investigate the possibility of the presence of any gluten in their products. An exhaustive list of their products mentioning the excipients used for each of them and the origin of these excipients would help tell us which medicines may be gluten free. As and when we receive their response, we will update it in the gluten free medicine list.

Meanwhile, we urge you to contact the manufacturers to learn about the gluten free status of the medicines before using them. It is your queries which will help the pharmaceutical industry understand about the need for declaring the presence of gluten in medicines. Request your doctor to write to them too.

We have prepared a sample letter which you could use to write to them.