A gluten sensitivity, usually as a result of celiac disease, affects every part of your life. The only treatment for this condition is to avoid gluten. Your dietary choices must be made carefully so you can prevent any potential reactions. One thing that is often overlooked after a celiac diagnosis is necessary medications. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications often contain grain products, which can expose you to gluten. Here are some things to consider so that you get the medicines you need without the fear of gluten exposure.

Labeling Details

Currently, there are no labeling rules for gluten in medications. This means that you must depend upon your pharmacist to know whether or not a medication contains gluten. You may also have to call the manufacturer to find out if there is gluten in a necessary medication.

There are several ingredients that may indicate that there is gluten present. These include:

  • Wheat

  • Starch (without a specified source)

  • Dextrates (without a specified source)

  • Caramel coloring (often derived from gluten-containing barley)

  • Dextramaltose (made from barley malt)

If a medication contains one of these ingredients, or if you cannot verify that the source is safe (such as those derived from rice, soy, or corn), then it's best to find an alternative medication.

Generic Ingredients

If you take a generic, or if a generic is available for your medication, you will need to identify the ingredients in each one. This is because many pharmacies switch out generics regularly to provide clients with the least expensive option. If there are certain generics you can't take, make sure it is in your file at the pharmacy and with your doctor. You should also keep a list of safe generics so you can verify them when getting refills.

Compounding Solutions

In some cases, there may not be a mass-produced gluten-free option for your specific medication. If you have other food allergies, such as a dye allergy, in addition to celiac, you may find it impossible to find safe medications. Fortunately, an apothecary-style pharmacist can meet your specific needs.

Most gluten in medications comes from filler, binder, or coating ingredients. This means the gluten is not essentail to the medication. An apothecary, or compounding pharmacy, can custom-mix your medications using the base chemicals. They will replace fillers, coatings, and binders with ingredients that don't contain gluten.

Make sure your doctor prescribes the medication as gluten-free, especially if you have prescription insurance. In some cases, insurance will only cover apothecary-prepared medications or more expensive alternatives to a generic if they are specifically prescribed. Companies like Potter's House Apothecary, Inc can help with other specific medication questions.