What else is in that?

ISSN 0256-5004 (Print)

AIMS Journal 2014, Vol 26, No 1

AIMS is often asked about the content of drugs by those with allergies or who practise abstinence diets (for example, vegetarians), for religious food observances and by those who want to know what they are taking into their bodies.

Unlike laws for food labelling in the UK, there is no similar requirement for medicine. Drug information sheets are included with all medicines and we recommend that you read them carefully before taking the drug and tell the doctor any information that may be relevant.

However, it is likely that you will only be shown this information sheet by hospital staff if you ask to see it. Medicines are only required to give details of 'active ingredients' they contain, which must be listed on the drug information sheet. Medicines will also have 'inactive ingredients', which are components of the drug that generally do not increase or affect the therapeutic action of the active ingredient. Inactive ingredients are used to make the tablets or solutions that contain the drugs and to make those that need to be swallowed palatable (such as coating of tablets). Examples include binding agents, dyes, preservatives and flavouring. It is possible that these inactive ingredients may cause allergic or adverse reactions.

It is extremely difficult to find out whether any medicines have active or inactive ingredients that are made from animal products or other ingredients that may be unacceptable to some people. If you are told a drug is synthetic, it may still be animal derived.

Chemical synthesis is often very complicated and using an animal source may make the production easier and hence cheaper, or there may be no suitable chemicals to use in the production process that can be obtained from plants. If a drug has been manufactured abroad, such as in China, details of the source may not be available.

The advice given to AIMS by a drugs company is to phone them direct to find out what was used to make each individual drug you wish to know about. You would need to do so for each different batch of drugs, because the ingredients could vary between batches of the same drug, although the quantity of the active ingredient would stay the same.

Please note that medical staff and midwives are unlikely to know whether the drug contains 'ingredients' that you wish to avoid or not. The information is not on the patient information sheet (there are no requirements for it to be) and neither is it in the British National Formulary (the book and website they use to obtain information about drug constituents - see www.bnf.org). Ask for written information if staff claim knowledge.

It may be worth speaking to a pharmacist, either your local one or the hospital pharmacist, as they are likely to know more about the drug - although their sources of information are likely to be the same. Again, check their knowledge and ask for written information.

Be aware, also, that you may be obtaining information about a drug with a certain brand name, however, the NHS may prescribe you another, cheaper version containing the same drug, but with different inactive ingredients. If so, you will have to start your checks all over again.

There are three useful websites where you may find information an American one https://www.drugs.com and two UK ones http://www.medicines.org.uk/emc/ and http://www.mhra.gov.uk/.

Latest Content

Journal

« »

Editorial: Mission Better Births. B…

AIMS Journal, 2018, Vol 30, No1 By Jo Dagustun, Editor I’m going to start with an assumption: that everyone reading this Journal is already convinced that we can do far b…

Read more

The Consequences of Discontinuing C…

AIMS Journal, 2018, Vol 30, No1 A birth story by Emma Ashworth It was my booking-in appointment for my second baby, and I didn’t want to be there. I didn’t want to birth…

Read more

Campaign update: Is the NMC fit for…

AIMS Journal, 2018, Vol 30, No1 By the AIMS Campaign Team Change at the NMC: why is this important to AIMS? AIMS recognises that a large number of taxpayer funded nationa…

Read more

Events

« »

Improving Patient Safety & Care

http://ipc2019.govconnect.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&alias=our-mission-early-years-profiles-2018&view=article&id=73&Itemid=181

Read more

4th Annual Birth Trauma Event

Details on Eventbrite Organised by Dr Rebecca Moore who has recently founded to the Make Birth Better Network

Read more

MBRRACE-UK ‘Saving Lives, Improving…

To register your interest please email conference@npeu.ox.ac.uk or keep an eye on our website https://www.npeu.ox.ac.uk/mbrrace-uk/bookings . Earlybird bookings will open…

Read more

Latest Campaigns

« »

Ágnes Geréb is granted clemency by…

28 th June 2018 "This act of clemency is about more than me. It is an acknowledgement of liberty in giving birth. It is a recognition by the state that the rights of wome…

Read more

Press Release: Jeremy Hunt announce…

AIMS is delighted that the Government has recognised the importance to the safety of women and babies of the continuity of carer model of midwifery. Having a midwife that…

Read more

Dr. Ágnes Geréb, Hungarian Midwife…

Dr. Ágnes Geréb is a Hungarian obstetrician and midwife who has been fighting for her freedom following her house arrest and thret of imprisonment due to her support for…

Read more