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Medication

  • The vast majority of medicines prescribed by your GP are gluten-free
  • A very small number of medicines contain wheat starch which contains low levels of gluten. Wheat starch is one of many ingredients so even when wheat starch is used, the overall gluten content of the medicine is very low.
  • For medicines which contain wheat starch in almost all cases, an alternative medicinal product can be prescribed, containing the same active ingredient, and which does not contain wheat starch.
  • Sometimes medications can cause side effects that are similar to symptoms that occur after eating gluten. Speak to your GP if you have any unexpected side effects.
  • Where wheat starch has not been used in a medicinal product, the product can be regarded as gluten-free

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medicines are acceptably safe. We have been in communication with the MHRA about the suitability of medicines containing wheat starch for people with coeliac disease.

Wheat starch

If a medicine contains wheat starch, this will be indicated on the label and the accompanying patient information leaflet. Wheat starch of pharmaceutical quality is highly processed and considered to be very low in gluten, containing no more than 100 ppm of gluten. 

In cases where wheat starch is used as an ingredient, because there are other ingredients in a medicine, the overall gluten content of the medicine is very low.

Where a product contains wheat starch, the current requirements for labelling requires the label to state that the product contains wheat starch, while the patient leaflet states the following: “Suitable for people with coeliac disease. Patients with wheat allergy (different from coeliac disease) should not take this medicine”.

In almost all cases an alternative medicinal product can be prescribed, in some cases containing the same active ingredient, and which does not contain wheat starch.

Anyone concerned should speak with their GP or pharmacist and request that their prescribed medicine is one that does not contain wheat starch.

Where wheat starch has not been used in a medicinal product, the product can be regarded as gluten-free.

Side effects

Sometimes medications can cause side effects that are similar to symptoms that occur after accidentally eating gluten.

If you have any unexpected side effects when taking medications, speak to your GP.

Prescribed medications should only be taken or stopped under medical advice. Do not stop taking any medication without consulting your GP. Your GP is best placed to advise you regarding alternative medications or you can also speak to your pharmacist. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns about the medicines you are taking.

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