The Wall Street Journal had a piece in their March 17 Pharmalot edition discussing the recent lawsuit brought against the FDA for not regulating the disclosure of gluten in medications.
The article delves into the struggle Michael Weber, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, endured to find safe medication.
After taking the drug, “I called my pharmacy and they were not able to determine that drug was gluten-free,” says Weber, a medical office assistant in Eastchester, N.Y. “So then I had to find which manufacturer produced the generic. I went to their website and then had to speak to somebody at the company. They said that was not a gluten-free batch… So I had to discontinue taking the drug. I would like to be able to take drugs and not have any fears or go through all these hoops.”
It is ironic that the FOOD and Drug and Administration would have a lawsuit brought against them for failure to keep citizens with a debilitating medical condition safe.
Unfortunately, this is a battle the celiac and food allergy communities have been fighting for years. It would be nice to have all drug manufactures list all of their ingredients. It is a challenge navigating having a simple antibiotic filled or working with your doctor and pharmacist to find the appropriate medication to take for chronic conditions.
The reality is this only the tip of the iceberg. Food products can be found in hair care products, soaps, lotions, make-up, household cleaning products, over-the-counter medications, prescription medications, and the list goes on.
Although food is inherently not a bad thing, in fact it is good and necessary for life, for some people, being exposed to trace amounts of certain food proteins can cause serious reactions.
We in the food allergy and celiac communities need to push for clear labeling laws, on food, pharmaceutical, personal care, and home care products. If it contains food, or a food derived product, it needs to be on the label in clear plain English.
Transparency in labeling needs to go beyond gluten and the FDA’s recognized top eight food allergies. Transparency may only truly be accomplished if ALL foods are clearly labeled on ALL products that contain ANY food or food derived substance.
According to FARE, Food Allergy Research and Education, “More than 170 foods are known to cause food allergies”.
As a society, as consumers, we need to care about being able to actually read and understand the label on the products we use and consume. It benefits everyone, not just the celiac and not just the food allergy communities.