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
  • In most cases, an alternative medicinal product can be prescribed 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.

With every medicine there should be an information leaflet. This will tell you if your medication is gluten free and suitable for people with coeliac disease.

Wheat starch

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.

MedicationIf a medicine contains wheat starch, this will be written on the label and the patient information leaflet. The requirements for labelling means the label must state that the product contains wheat starch, and 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”.

Wheat starch of pharmaceutical quality is highly processed and considered to be low in gluten, containing no more than 100 parts per million (ppm) of gluten. And, because it is mixed with other ingredients, the overall gluten content is very low.

In almost all cases an alternative medicine 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.