Advil From the United States Not Suitable for Celiacs

We belong to a number of Celiac and gluten-free groups on Facebook, and sometimes I see things that just boggle my mind. (Yesterday, I saw someone claiming to be a health practitioner stating that corn contains gluten and the FDA lies about it. Sigh.)

This morning, I saw another crazy claim: Advil contains gluten. I know for sure this isn’t true: I take a lot of Advil, and I was sure that I read somewhere that medication is mandated to be gluten-free. So off I go to the Advil site, and right on their FAQ page is this statement:

I am allergic to gluten. Is it all right for me to take this product?

A  Advil® Liqui-Gels® and Advil® Migraine and contain a wheat derivative, and are not gluten-free. You should check with your doctor if you have any concerns about taking this product.

Instant panic! I checked the Canadian site and it seemed to indicate that Canadian Advil is gluten-free. I called the customer service line and they confirmed that in fact all Pfizer products (which includes brand names like Robax, Robitussin, Dimetapp, and Dristan) are gluten-free.

Out of curiosity, I called the Tylenol product line, since I couldn’t find any information on their website. (It seems that once upon a time, there was a page stating that all Tylenol is gluten-free, but it appears to no longer exist.) They were far less helpful, requiring a specific product name (of which there are dozens), and then giving this cryptic statement: “No gluten has intentionally been added to this product but we cannot guarantee that it is gluten-free.”

I also checked into my assumption that all medications must be gluten-free. It looks like both the Canadian and American drug administrations are looking into such regulations, but nothing has been passed. To make matters worse, allergen-containing ingredients don’t have to be identified on drugs as they do on food. (For example, the label on a medication could just say “starch” and not identify if it is from corn or wheat. The U.S.-based Gluten Free Drugs website is highly recommended, but there is no Canadian equivalent that I could find. Most people say to contact the manufacturer to be 100% certain. For prescription drugs, always double-check with your pharmacist.

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  1. #1 by Chrisanna D on July 17, 2013 - 11:06 am

    In a similar vein I’ve even seen ketchup here that does not contain wheat (no GF label, mind you), in the glass bottles, but the same ketchup in a squeeze bottle has wheat flour on the label. Always read the labels!

  2. #3 by 2013Celiac on April 5, 2015 - 10:36 pm

    I know it’s been a while since this post, but checking every time is very important. I have a great pharmacist who checks on everything! Most stuff is GF so far, but not all is. She is hoping to be an all-GF pharmacy in time, which would be amazing! As you see with Advil, it can vary from country to country. So far, I’ve found Canada is better than the US on stuff I’ve checked, but it could be a coincidence.

    • #4 by glutenfree4hfx on April 5, 2015 - 10:38 pm

      That is really great! Everything I’ve checked on here in Canada so far has been fine but it certainly varies.

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