In prescription and over-the-counter medications, fillers (also called “inactive ingredients” or “excipients”) are added to the active drug. Fillers provide shape and bulk for tablets and capsules, aid in water absorption (helping the tablet to disintegrate), and serve a variety of other purposes as well. Fillers can be derived from any starch source, including: corn, potatoes, tapioca, and wheat.
In addition to active ingredients, medications (prescription and OTC) may contain fillers, coatings, and other inactive ingredients that contain gluten or are derived from grains containing gluten. Currently, there is no requirement that gluten-containing grains (wheat, barley and rye) be listed as ingredients, which may cause people to unknowingly consume gluten when taking their medications. Just a small amount of gluten is enough to cause symptoms, but even asymptomatic consumers may be damaging their intestines if their medications contain gluten.
CDF strongly recommends developing a relationship with your pharmacist and making sure he or she is aware of your need for 100% gluten-free medication. Additionally, as a courtesy to the gluten-free community, Dr. Steven Plogsted of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, maintains a website that provides information regarding gluten-free drugs. However, this site is for informational purposes only and may contain inaccuracies; CDF is in no way endorsing this website. Dr. Plogsted advises that, “All persons should interpret the information with caution and should seek medical advice when necessary.”
Please note: There may be prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications that are gluten-free and are NOT included in his list, so always check with the manufacturer.
For more direct information or questions, you may contact the company directly.
“800″ Numbers for Pharmaceutical Companies
- Abbott Labs – 1-800-633-9110
- Bayer (Sterling Health) – 1-800-331-4536 & 1-800-332-2056
- Bristol-Meyers Squibb – 1-800-468-7746
- McNeil – 1-800-962-5357
- Proctor and Gamble – 1-800-395-0689
- Merck – 1-800-727-5400
- Pfizer – 800-438-1985
- Salix – 1-866-669-7597
- Eli Lilly – 1-800-545-5979