WASHINGTON — Gluten allergies is no longer a problem in foods but also in prescription medication.  People are experiencing allergic reactions after taking medications containing gluten.

Congressman Tim Ryan is pushing the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act to require the Federal Food, Drug, Cosmetic Act and pharmaceutical companies to include a parenthetical statement identifying ingredients such as: starch, wheat, barley or any gluten derivatives in prescription drugs.

Ryan said providing a clear containment statement on medication drugs is a “simply way to protect consumers” and the FDA can fix this problem.

“The FDA can very easily and  straightforwardly make sure these medications are labeled if they have gluten in them,” said Ryan.  “…or work on getting gluten out of the medication.”

Ryan says the label will inform consumers if there’s wheat, starch or barley included in the medication drug.

Amber Parish, Pharm.D., pharmacy manager at Northwestern University Health Service Pharmacy said it would be great to provide gluten information quickly.

“A definitive statement on the label regarding gluten free ingredients would make it easier to answer questions regarding gluten in medications,” Parish said.

But why is gluten used in medication drugs?

“In drug manufacturing, gluten containing ingredients could be used as excipients alongside the active ingredients of a medication,” said Parish.

In other words, excipients are substances that are used as a drug stabilizer, to provide additional bulk, to develop solid formulations like tablets, or help the action of the active ingredient, according to Parish.

“Even if it is clear that there are no gluten containing ingredients in a medication, it may be necessary to contact the manufacturer anyway to determine whether or not it is manufactured in a fully gluten free environment,” Parish added.

Marilyn Geller, CEO of the Celiac Disease Foundation in California, said in a telephone interview, that three million people are affected by celiac disease, an immune reaction to eating gluten.  She said this bill will give them basic consumer protection rights.

“People with celiac disease deserve to be able to take medications that their doctor prescribes over the counter or prescription drugs with confidence that it’s safe.”

Ryan said this bill will help millions of people across the country who would be affected by not knowing and taking medication that can potentially have some gluten in it.

“It’s not just the defense of our country or our homeland, but it’s also protection of our constituents from bad food and medication that may hurt them,” Ryan said.

Ryan said this bill was introduced in 2013, but he’s hopeful with the new speaker of the house the bill will get the necessary attention and traction it needs to move through legislation.

Additional camera work provided by Connor Morgan

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