Important information about the commonly prescribed thyroid medication Cytomel
One of the most challenging aspects of living with celiac disease can be determining if your medications contain gluten and, if so, how much. Celiac disease often goes hand-in-hand with thyroid disease, so Beyond Celiac wants to share information about a common medication for thyroid disease: Cytomel, manufactured by Pfizer.
In an article on her website, Dr. Izabella Wentz, Pharm D, brought up the concern of Cytomel containing gluten after a reader shared news that the medication is not guaranteed to be gluten-free. We decided to do some research of our own and gave Pfizer a call to get a better understanding of the issue.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that the Pfizer representative from the medical information department knew about celiac disease and understood why gluten in a medication would be a concern. We were informed that Pfizer does use starch in Cytomel and that any given lot may or may not be gluten-free. Pfizer uses different starches, including wheat, to bind the product. Some lots may include wheat while others will not. At this time, there is no testing of the final Cytomel product. Therefore, it is unclear if this product is safe for people with celiac disease.
So what should you do if you are taking Cytomel?
- If you have concerns about continuing this medication, talk to your prescribing doctor about it. Do not stop taking your medication without first talking to your doctor about other options.
- Tell Pfizer that you have a concern. The representative we spoke with asked if we would like to make a formal request to Pfizer to address this issue related to Cytomel containing gluten. We opted to share our concern and encourage you to do the same if you are worried about Cytomel containing gluten or the contents of the product not being listed on the label. Dr. Wentz’s original article gave a great outline of how to go about calling Pfizer and what to say.
This is a perfect example of why it’s important to have regulations surrounding labeling ingredients in medications.
You can take action! In 2015, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan and New York Congresswoman Nita Lowey reintroduced the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act, which would require drug manufacturers to list the ingredients on a product label. You can monitor this bill’s progress and make your voice heard by calling Congress. GovTrack.us has all the information you need to support this bill.
Beyond Celiac has supported this bill since it was first introduced in 2013. We’ll continue to keep you updated on its progress as more news becomes available. You can learn more about gluten in medications here.