Thursday, February 9, 2012

Something Special to do in February

It's February and you might be thinking of upcoming Valentine's Day or even that this is a leap year.
But I wanted to turn your attention for a minute to a Gluten in Medication survey.

The National Foundation for Celiac Awareness  is conducting the survey to see how widespread the problem of gluten in medication really is. There has been a lot of discussion of this issue in the past, but this is the first time anyone has set out to collect real data.

The survey, which is open until February 28,  will take between five and 15 minutes to complete. Results will be used to help the NFCA identify which medications to test for gluten. Funding for this research comes from a grant from the Food and Drug Adminstration. Results will be published late in 2013.

I know from writing about the topic that everyone, including pharmacists, suspects very few drugs contain gluten. But because some medications might, we have to look at all drugs to make sure we're not taking one of them. And it's not easy to find information about gluten in drugs since there are no laws that require it to be labeled. That means cross examining your pharmacist and calling drug manufacturers.

If this survey can help reduce the effort we have to put into finding odd ball drugs with gluten it will benefit everyone who is gluten free. So I am encouraging you to take it  before February ends.

One final note, even as the survey is being conducted, the FDA is also looking into the possibility of prohibiting the use of gluten-containing ingredients in drugs altogether. The agency is asking drug companies whether this simple solution would work, given that gluten in used so rarely anyway.

It's nice to see two efforts to simplify gluten-free life in relationship to medications going on at the same time. That gives us two chances to resolve the issue of gluten in drugs -- either through an outright ban or clear labeling.

Amy Ratner

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