Push for bill mandating clear labeling on medications containing gluten

Reporter: Veronica Marshall
Published: Updated:

Do you know what’s in your medication?

Most drugs don’t come with nutrition labels and it’s a problem that hurts people with gluten allergies like celiac disease. Now, there’s a new push to require nutrition labels on medication.

Eating out can be dangerous for Elizabeth Paquet, but at a south Fort Myers restaurant called Fathoms, she feels safe.

Paquet has celiac disease and talks about the relief she has when finding a restaurant that understands.

“It’s exciting, it’s like Christmas,” she said. “When you see a menu that says gluten-free, that means they put their time and effort into it… It makes it easier for me to be able to go out with my family.”

What is celiac disease? When people like Paquet eat gluten, her immune system attacks her small intestine leading to painful cramping, digestive issues, and if untreated, surgery.

But sometimes she finds it’s what’s at home in her medicine cabinet that can hurt her the most.

“…I couldn’t figure out why I was getting sick, the doctors couldn’t figure out why I was getting sick, and then we finally narrowed it down – it was the medication,” Paquet said.

She has been fighting to get nutrition labels on medications for more than a decade, and medical professionals like FGCU Department of Health Sciences assistant professor Robert Hawkes support the measure.

“Certainly, if there are medications that do have gluten,” Hawkes said. “I think it’s important that they are identified so people with gluten insufficiency or gluten allergies don’t take those medications, or maybe find an alternative that does not contain that.”

After years of fighting, Paquet is finally seeing some results.

Right now, there are bills in both the U.S. House (H.R. 2074) and Senate (S. 3021) asking drug makers to include a list of ingredients on their medications.

“I’m hoping that if we can get people out there and start getting to these Senators, getting to these Representatives, saying, ‘okay we need this, we need help’ – then maybe they’ll start to actually do something,” Paquet added.

The House bill was sent to the Energy and Commerce Committee last April, and the Senate bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in December.

No actions have been taken on either bill since then.


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