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Back when I was in Cegep and all the way to University, I worked as a technical assistant in a pharmacy. I will never thank my father enough for the introduction to the workplace, where I learned so many valuable skills and gained much knowledge that is still extremely useful today. Thank you to Karl, who is a friend of mine today, who gave me the opportunity as an assistant! You are the best;)!
Not only is he a pharmacist & adorable father to beautiful children, but he also runs marathons by the dozen! I admire him greatly.
There is also my great friend and confidant, Maude, who has to be the absolute best pharmacist in the whole wide world. I had the honour and great joy to be her assistant for two full years, where we reconnected after losing touch for a while during our teenage years.
But why am I telling you about these amazing people? It’s because sometimes, this profession gets a bad rep. I’ve met a few pharmacists while I worked as a technical assistant, and there were great ones as well as some not so great ones. It’s like that everywhere. But maintaining a good relationship with your local pharmacy is essential.
As a coeliac, there is a risk with all kinds of medication. Either it’s over the counter, by prescription of your doctor or as simple as the vitamins on the shelves: they could all contain gluten.
What to do? First off, do the usual first steps: read the labels. But often, they won’t have everything listed on it and could be a bit confusing. Talk to your pharmacist. Make sure your intolerance must be noted in your file as an allergy. This way, when the assistant types in your prescription, there should be a warning that comes up. If there is a problem, the pharmacist could change to the generic brand or call the doctor and have the prescription changed otherwise.
Don’t forget that pharmaceuticals can change the ingredients in their products at all times. The best example is Advil Liquid-gel… A few members of the FQMC were unfortunately contaminated after taking a few of these pills, and the foundation did what it does and informed Pfyzer of this, only to discover that they had changed the ingredients with which the capsule was made and could no longer be considered a gluten-free product. (Link to this communication: https://www.fqmc.org/nouvelles/gluten-dans-advil-liqui-gels)
The more curious bunch out there must be wondering how in the world could there be gluten in these products. It’s often not in the active medication, quite naturally, but rather in the excipient, which is the associated substance of the drug.
The excipient will give the texture to the medication you hold in your hands. Gluten can be found in wheat starch, cornstarch, in wheat or barley maltodextrin. It can also be found in colouring agents, in dextrin or gelatins.
So always be on the lookout for these sneaky ones. If like me, you sometimes have headaches, re-read your labels if it’s a new bottle, even if it’s a product you’ve taken for years. I was shocked when I read this information on Advil.