Gluten in Your Medication What Celiacs Need to Know

Reviewed By Jill Kohn, MS, RDN, LDN
Gluten in Your Medication


For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, ingesting even the smallest amount of gluten can trigger a reaction, and it's no different when it comes to medication. Both over-the-counter and prescription drugs can be a hidden source of gluten. If you're following a gluten-free diet, that can spell trouble. Follow these tips to make sure your meds are gluten-free.

Learn the Ingredients

The first step is identifying whether or not a medication contains gluten. This can be tricky. Labeling gluten-containing ingredients in medication isn't legally required, and it's often the inactive ingredients (binders or fillers) that can be potential sources of gluten. Cross-contamination can also be an issue.

Just like with food, learning the ingredients and how to read the label is a must. Pay attention to the inactive ingredients—particularly anything with starch or dextrin, unless it states a gluten-free grain as the source.

Check the back of the box on over-the-counter medications for ingredients. Prescription ingredients can be found in the package insert or on the manufacturer's website. If in doubt, ask your pharmacist to call the manufacturer or call yourself to confirm if a medication is safe.

Consult Your Doctors

Another major step is to consult your doctors—all of them. This includes your dentist (think about what they might use to clean your teeth) and any specialists.

Get to Know Your Pharmacist

In addition to developing a relationship with your doctors, it's also important to work with your pharmacy to address your gluten-free needs. They are, after all, the ones filling your prescriptions, and the prescribing doctor might not necessarily know which medications have gluten in them or not. Make a point to fill your prescriptions at the same pharmacy and ask the pharmacist to make a note in your file that states your medication cannot contain gluten.

Investigate Brand vs. Generic

The difference between a brand-name product and generic can often lie in the inactive ingredients that are used, which is where gluten might show up. Simply put: check everything.

Tell Your Insurance

Informing your insurance from the get-go that you have celiac disease and are required to follow a gluten-free diet may help when it comes to approving brand-name medication over generic, if the generic medication contains gluten. However, it's not a guarantee.

More Resources*

*The Academy does not have editorial or other control over the contents of the referenced websites, is not responsible for the opinions expressed by the authors of listed articles and does not endorse any product or service.

Find an Expert

Need serious help making a plan? The nutrition experts in our professional membership are ready to help you create the change to improve your life.

Find an Expert