What medications contain gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. For most people, consuming gluten is not an issue. However, for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, ingesting gluten can cause serious health problems.

In addition to checking food labels, those following a gluten-free diet also need to pay close attention to medications and supplements. While the active ingredients may be gluten-free, other ingredients in the product may contain gluten.

Below is more information on common medications that contain gluten as well as some gluten-free alternatives.

1. Prescription medications containing gluten

Many prescription medications contain gluten as an inactive ingredient. Gluten is sometimes used as a binding agent to create the pill or as an ingredient in the pill coating.

Some types of prescription medications that may contain gluten include:

  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Ointments
  • Lotions
  • Creams
  • Liquid suspensions

Gluten may also be found in the flavorings of some liquid medications.

There are thousands of different prescription medications on the market. The only way to know for sure if a medication contains gluten is to check the full list of inactive ingredients on the product labeling or packaging.

Some common prescription medications that contain gluten include:

  • Adderall
  • Albuterol
  • Atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Sertraline (Zoloft)
  • Metformin
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • Pantoprazole (Protonix)
  • Escitalopram (Lexapro)
  • Levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl)

Again, this is not a complete list. The gluten content of medications can also vary by brand name versus generic as well as by dosage form (tablet, capsule, liquid, etc).

Tips for identifying gluten in prescription medications

Here are some tips to help identify prescription medications that contain gluten:

  • Carefully read the medication labels and packaging for mentions of gluten, wheat, barley or rye.
  • Look for the inactive ingredients list on the printed paperwork from the pharmacy.
  • Search online for the full prescribing information paper that lists inactive ingredients.
  • Call the pharmaceutical company that makes the medication and ask if it contains gluten.
  • Ask your pharmacist to check if the medication contains gluten.

If your prescription medication contains gluten, talk to your doctor about alternatives. There may be another drug in the same class that does not contain gluten.

Gluten-free prescription options

Fortunately, there are some prescription medications that are known to be gluten-free. Again, it’s still important to check the ingredients list to confirm.

Some gluten-free prescription medication options include:

  • Liothyronine (Cytomel)
  • Warfarin (Coumadin)
  • Propranolol
  • Amlodipine (Norvasc)
  • Losartan (Cozaar)
  • Albuterol inhalers
  • Citalopram (Celexa)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Zolpidem (Ambien)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)

Again, it’s a good idea to check with the pharmaceutical company or your pharmacist to verify the ingredients.

2. Over-the-counter medications containing gluten

Like prescription medications, many over-the-counter (OTC) products contain gluten. This includes common OTC medications like:

  • Pain relievers (Tylenol, Advil, Aleve)
  • Allergy medicines (Benadryl, Claritin, Zyrtec)
  • Antacids (Tums, Pepto-Bismol)
  • Cough syrups and cold medicines
  • Vitamins and supplements

Gluten may be found in the tablets, capsules, gummies, liquids, suspension formulas, coatings, flavorings and binders used in OTC products.

Identifying gluten in OTC medications

To determine if an OTC medication contains gluten, be sure to:

  • Read all labels carefully looking for mentions of wheat, barley, rye or gluten.
  • Check the inactive ingredients list on the outer packaging and Drug Facts label.
  • Call the manufacturer and ask if the product is gluten-free.
  • Search online for full ingredient lists from the manufacturer.
  • Ask your pharmacist for help identifying gluten-free options.

Gluten-free OTC options

There are many OTC medications that are gluten-free. Some gluten-free options include:

  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Advil (ibuprofen)
  • Allegra (fexofenadine)
  • Claritin (loratadine)
  • Zyrtec (cetirizine)
  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  • Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)
  • Mucinex (guaifenesin)
  • Tums Ultra Strength
  • Pepto-Bismol chewable tablets
  • Cough syrups containing dextromethorphan and/or guaifenesin

Be sure to check labels each time you purchase, as product formulations can change over time.

3. Nutritional supplements and vitamins with gluten

Gluten can also be found in many nutritional supplements and vitamins. This includes ingredients like:

  • Fillers
  • Binders
  • Flavorings
  • Preservatives
  • Dye

Some types of supplements that may contain gluten sources:

  • Multivitamins
  • Vitamin B complex
  • Vitamin C
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Fish oil
  • Probiotics
  • Herbal supplements

It’s important to read the supplement Facts panel, Drug Facts panel and inactive ingredients list to check for potential gluten sources.

Identifying gluten in supplements

Here are some tips for identifying gluten in vitamins and supplements:

  • Carefully read all labels for mentions of wheat, barley, rye or gluten.
  • Check capsule descriptions for “gelatin capsules” which likely contain gluten.
  • Contact the manufacturer directly to inquire about gluten ingredients.
  • Search online for full supplement facts with inactive ingredients.
  • Ask your pharmacist for assistance identifying gluten-free options.

Gluten-free vitamins and supplements

Many major supplement brands now offer gluten-free formulations. Some gluten-free vitamin and supplement options include:

  • Nature Made vitamins and supplements
  • Vitafusion gummy vitamins
  • Rainbow Light vitamins and supplements
  • New Chapter vitamins and supplements
  • Garden of Life supplements
  • MegaFood vitamins and supplements
  • Schiff vitamins and supplements
  • Nature’s Bounty vitamins and supplements
  • Puritan’s Pride vitamins and supplements

Again, double check all labels and inactive ingredients lists or contact the manufacturer to confirm gluten-free status.

4. Reading medication labels for gluten

Reading medication, supplement and product labels is the only way to definitively identify if something contains gluten. Here are some tips for reading labels to spot potential gluten sources:

Watch out for these technical gluten ingredients

These ingredient names may indicate the presence of gluten grains like wheat, barley or rye:

  • Wheat flour
  • Barley malt
  • Rye flour
  • Maltodextrin
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Vegetable protein
  • Modified food starch
  • Dextrin
  • Caramel color
  • Natural flavors

Check both active and inactive ingredients lists

Gluten is almost always found in the inactive ingredients list. But major allergen sources like wheat must be called out on the active ingredients list per FDA rules.

Look for changes in formulations

Keep in mind that product formulations can change over time. Check labels each time you purchase a medication or supplement, even if it was previously gluten-free.

Beware of cross-contamination

Even if a product does not directly contain gluten ingredients, cross-contamination is possible in facilities that also handle wheat. Consult the manufacturer if this is a concern.

Call the manufacturer

When in doubt, call the number on the medication or supplement packaging to inquire about gluten sources. Manufacturers can provide the most accurate and up-to-date ingredient information.

5. Gluten content of common medication categories

Below is more information on some of the major medication categories and whether they typically contain gluten:


Antibiotics like amoxicillin, doxycycline, cephalexin and ciprofloxacin are often gluten-free. However, check labels for gluten-containing fillers or capsules.


Many antidepressants like Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Lexapro (escitalopram) contain gluten. A gluten-free option is Celexa (citalopram).

ADHD medications

ADHD medications such as Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse often contain gluten. Non-medication treatments may be an option for managing ADHD symptoms.


Common antihistamines like Claritin (loratadine), Allegra (fexofenadine) and Zyrtec (cetirizine) tend to be gluten-free. Always check labels to confirm.

Blood thinners

The blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin) is typically gluten-free. Other blood thinners like Xarelto (rivaroxaban) may contain gluten.

Cholesterol medications

Statins like atorvastatin (Lipitor) and simvastatin (Zocor) often contain gluten. But rosuvastatin (Crestor) tends to be gluten-free.

Heartburn medications

Common antacids like TUMS and Pepto-Bismol chewable tablets are gluten-free. Proton-pump inhibitors like omeprazole (Prilosec) may contain gluten.

Pain relievers

Most major pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) are available in gluten-free versions. Prescription painkillers often contain gluten.

Thyroid medications

Levothyroxine drugs like Synthroid, Levoxyl and Tirosint contain gluten. But other thyroid medications like liothyronine (Cytomel) tend to be gluten-free.


Most routine vaccines like flu shots, MMR, varicella and hepatitis vaccines are gluten-free. But some may have risk of wheat cross-contamination.

6. Tips for Taking Gluten-Free Medications

Here are some additional tips for living gluten-free while taking medications:

  • Check labels every time. Don’t assume something that was gluten-free last year still is. Manufacturers can change formulations.
  • Look for pharmacy markings. Some pharmacies will put a special mark or label on medications confirmed to be gluten-free.
  • Use a pill organizer. Separate gluten-free meds from those containing gluten to avoid mix-ups.
  • Wipe down counters. Clean medication preparation areas to avoid cross-contact from crumbs or dust.
  • Advocate for yourself. You have a right to know what is in your medications. Push for answers from manufacturers if needed.
  • Seek pharmacist help. Ask your pharmacist to assist with identifying gluten-free options when possible.
  • Consider liquid forms. Liquid medications are less likely to have gluten fillers compared to pills.
  • Explore alternatives. Talk to your doctor about using gluten-free medications when feasible.

7. Precautions for Those with Celiac Disease

People with celiac disease need to take extra care when taking medications that contain gluten. Here are some important precautions to take:

  • Work closely with your pharmacist and doctor to find gluten-free options whenever possible.
  • Check with your doctor before stopping any medications that contain gluten.
  • Take gluten-containing medications separately from gluten-free ones.
  • Drink plenty of water to help minimize gluten contact with the lining of the stomach.
  • Take gluten-containing pills with a meal to help reduce impact.
  • Use extra caution with pills that dissolve in the mouth or stomach.
  • Monitor symptoms carefully and report any reactions.
  • Consider adding a probiotic to help support gut health.

For those with celiac disease, even small amounts of gluten from medications can trigger health problems over time. Careful label reading and consultation with healthcare providers is key to minimizing risks.

8. Bottom Line

When living gluten-free, it’s important to check the ingredients of all medications, supplements and over-the-counter products. Gluten may be found in the inactive ingredients like fillers, binders, dyes and capsule ingredients.

Reading labels carefully and contacting manufacturers directly can help identify potential gluten sources. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist about obtaining gluten-free versions of prescription medications when possible.

With vigilance about checking labels and asking questions, those avoiding gluten can feel confident taking medications without putting their health at risk.

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