Inactive Ingredients in Medication and their Side Effects

Inactive Ingredients in Medication and their Side Effects


What is in your medication? Pills and
capsules contain not only the active drug but also a cocktail of other
inactive ingredients. These ingredients are not intended to have a therapeutic
effect but are an important part of oral medications that are added to aid with
drug stability, taste, appearance and tamper resistance. In this research study
we analyzed thousands of pills and capsules we found that on average only
29% of the weight of a pill or capsule corresponds to the active drug while the
remaining 71% is comprised of these inactive ingredients. We found that the
average capsule or pill contains more than eight different inactive
ingredients and in some cases up to 35 different inactive ingredients can be
included in a single medication. There are more than 1,000 different inactive
ingredients that can be currently included in pills, these ingredients
usually undergo toxicity analysis and have a long history of not causing
significant side-effects in most patients. However there are case reports
in the medical literature of at least 38 inactive ingredients causing allergic
symptoms and sensitive patients. Shockingly almost all currently
available pills and capsules contain at least one of these 38 critical
ingredients. Patients with these rare allergies could be inadvertently exposed
to medications with these inactive ingredients that trigger adverse
reactions. If their allergies are incorrectly attributed to the
therapeutic ingredients patients may stop taking their medications or
clinicians may switch to another therapy that could be more expensive or less
beneficial for the patients. Known allergies to inactive ingredients can also prevent therapeutic opportunities for example most progesterone
formulations and more than half of all valproic acid capsules contain peanut oil
as a solubilizer rendering them unavailable to patients with peanut
allergies. Inactive ingredients can also cause mild but unpleasant reactions
which are much more common may interfere with patient comfort and
medication compliance. For example certain sugars added to capsules and
pills can contribute to bloating, belly pain and diarrhea and patients suffering
from irritable bowel syndrome. These sugars are present and more than half of
all pills and capsules. Seventy-five percent of the world population is
lactose intolerance but nevertheless small amounts of lactose are included in
nearly half of available medications while the amounts are generally too
small to cause discomfort in most patients those with a higher sensitivity
to lactose can develop symptoms for medication intake these quantities can
quickly add up in patients taking multiple medications and potentially
having an impact even in those less sensitive to lactose. For example a
patient suffering from hypertension and high cholesterol may be on a regimen of
amlodipine, simvastatin, and losartan with a combined load of lactose close to
one gram which equals the amount of lactose in a shot glass of milk
increasing awareness and data availability on the inactive ingredient
content and pills and capsules could offer benefits to patients
pharmaceutical companies could avoid such ingredients and clinicians would
have the opportunity to recommend therapies that consider both the
therapeutic and the inactive portion of a medication leading to safer treatments
with fewer complications.

Author:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *