Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have invested their time and effort into researching the pills patients commonly take. Their findings show that the majority of orally-taken pills may be detrimental to a patient’s health due to certain inactive ingredients.
The research shows that the team discovered a vast majority of common medications prescribed in the United States contain at least one ingredient that could lead to adverse health effects. Such ingredients include lactose, peanut oil, gluten, and chemical dyes, which have been found in 90 percent of all oral medications tested. These are clearly all high-risk items when it comes to allergic reactions and gastrointestinal symptoms.
The inspiration for this mission came from a real-life incident involving a patient with celiac disease. This patient was prescribed a pill that contained gluten which caused adverse effects.
The results were discovered by looking at inactive ingredients found in 42,052 oral medications. Out of these medications, there were 350,000 inactive ingredients discovered. The finding is summarized as follows:
“38 inactive ingredients were found to cause allergic symptoms after exposure. 45% of medications contain lactose, while 33 % of medications contained food dyes. 0.08 % of medications contain peanut oil.”
Inactive ingredients may sound harmless as they are generally those items that are added to improve taste or shelf-life, but if these are not properly displayed, they can cause harm to those unaware of its presence in the pills.
The corresponding author for this research was C. Giovanni Traverso, MB, BChir, Ph.D., who works as a gastroenterologist in the Division of Gastroenterology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as holds a place in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT.
Traverso stated, “While we call these ingredients ‘inactive,’ in many cases, they are not. While the doses may be low, we don’t know what the threshold is for individuals to react in the majority of instances,”.
This research study was performed with the hope that legislation will take the labeling of pills much more seriously and that the lives of those taking these pills will be protected as much as possible. After all, trust is essential in the medical field.
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