Could you be allergic to your medication?

Allergic reaction to prescription medication

Medications, including prescription medications and supplements, often contain a number of inactive ingredients: These are substances that are added to a medication not intended or expected to have any direct therapeutic effect.

Things like fillers. Binders. Preservatives. Flavours. Colours.

A recent study in the U.S. analysing data of the inactive ingredients in over 42,000 oral medications highlighted some startling results. Many of those inactive ingredients are known allergens, and were found in up to 90% of the medications analysed.

So those Inactive ingredients may not be so inactive after all!

This could be bad news for the estimated 20% of the Australian population that have at least one allergy. According to the Allergy and Immune Diseases in Australia Report, Australia has one of the highest allergy rates in the world and growing, including drug allergies.

The U.S. study, conducted by a team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), found the most frequently prescribed medications in the U.S. included at least one ingredient known to cause adverse reactions, such as peanut oil and gluten. Approximately 45% of medications contained lactose and 33% of medications contained a food dye, an additive used for aesthetic purposes only.

The study, conducted in 2019, was inspired by an incident where a prescribed medication for a patient with Coeliac disease contained gluten: Coeliac disease is caused by an intolerance to gluten.

Although inactive ingredients used in medications are generally considered safe to the broader community, they can cause adverse reactions like hives, gastric issues, difficulty breathing or even anaphylaxis in people with allergies or intolerances, which is a big problem if they come in much-needed medications.

According to Compounding Pharmacist Matthew Bellgrove, there is also a worry is that some people may avoid taking beneficial medications in the belief they’re allergic to a medication, when in fact they may just be allergic to the additives used in the medication.

With hundreds of different brands and formulations of medications, each using a different combination of inactive ingredients, it can be a minefield for anyone with allergies or intolerances to get the right medication for them.

Fortunately, there is a solution for such individuals. It is possible to get prescription medication without the ‘inactive’ ingredients. A trusted compounding pharmacy like National Custom Compounding can produce medication to the exact formula used by the manufacturer, or as prescribed by a doctor, but without the unnecessary additives.

There is also growing evidence that continuous exposure to chemical additives adversely impacts on the composition of gut microbiota. In some cases, this can lead to bowl disease and even cancer. Therefore, custom medications without the additives can also be helpful for people on multiple meds or long-term therapies, to limit their exposure to unnecessary inactive ingredients.

Final Word

If you’ve experienced reactions to a medication, or you have known sensitivities, ensure you always read the ingredients list for any medication or supplement before taking it, and never stop taking a prescribed medication without first consulting your doctor.

Seek advice from your integrative doctor or GP on ruling out reactions to inactive ingredients by working with a compounding pharmacy.

If you have any questions on medications made without additives speak to one of the team at National Custom Compounding on 1300 731 755 or drop a line to [email protected].

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