Gluten in pharmaceuticals is found in the inactive ingredients in medicine – also known as excipients. Excipients are defined as pharmacologically inactive substances that are included in the final formulation of the drug product.
The purpose of the excipients is multifunctional. They provide bulk to the product and allow for the drug to be dissolved and absorbed at different rates in the body. They are also used to decrease stomach upset, protect the product from moisture and contamination, and simply make the final drug appearance more aesthetically pleasing. The shape, color and overall appearance of the final product can also help in product identification and helps reduce the possibility of mixing up medications.
Excipients added during manufacturing may be from a wheat source including unspecified starch, pre-gelatinized starch, flour and gluten. Dextri-maltose and caramel coloring, which may contain barley malt, may also be a source of gluten.
Patients with celiac disease should always make sure that their medication does not contain gluten or gluten based products. If you are unsure of a product, as your pharmacist or your doctor to help you determine whether a product is gluten free.
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