What animal derived ingredients are lurking in your medications?

By: Health Local Staff Apr 21, 2014
  Article
What animal derived ingredients are lurking in your medications?

Did you know that nearly three in four common medications include ingredients derived from animals.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal found that nearly three in four common medications include ingredients derived from animals. The shocking news comes at a time when more and more people are concerned about what’s being put in their food. And now it looks like we also need to be concerned about what’s being put in our medication. The news should be especially disconcerting for vegetarians and people with various food allergies.

The study looked at one hundred of the most commonly prescribed medications being used in the United Kingdom. Of the 100 medications, nearly 75% of them had animal-derived ingredients including gelatin, lactose, and magnesium stearate. These ingredients sound harmless, but are actually derived from pigs, cows, and fish. Gelatin is used to coat the medications while magnesium stearate is used as a mixer.

The fallout of this study is yet another example of consumers and patients not being given full disclosure of the ingredients they are ingesting. The study found that product labels are inconsistent at best and often do not list all the ingredients.

While these ingredients aren’t necessarily harmful, they do cause issues for vegetarians, vegans, and individuals following certain religious or cultural diets prohibiting them from ingesting certain animal-derived ingredients.

While rare, there are some individuals with food allergies that may react to medications with animal-derived ingredients. Individuals with any sort of food allergy should talk to their doctor. That includes individuals suffering corn and gluten allergies.

Researchers who conducted the study stated that animal-derived products are not even necessary when it comes to making medications. Instead of using animal-based products, researchers said it would be just as easy for manufacturers to use plant-based ingredients that would not violate the lifestyles of vegetarians and certain religious and cultural practitioners. There are non-animal based medications out there, but most people do not know they need to ask in the first place.

The bottom line is the animal derived ingredients being infused into common prescription medications are not harmful to individuals without certain food allergies. But they do violate religious, cultural, and lifestyle preferences for those not wanting to consume any animal-based ingredients. For those who want to find out, tell your doctor, read the label, and also consult the manufacturer’s website. If that does not provide enough information, contact the manufacturer or the Food and Drug Administration directly.

Several similar studies are underway in the United States and other countries that rely heavily on prescription medications as a method of fighting sickness and disease. So now that you know nearly three out of four commonly used medications have animal-derived ingredients in them will that affect your usage? Comment below.

The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.