Patient and physician attitudes to using medications with religiously forbidden ingredients

Ann Pharmacother. 2004 Nov;38(11):1830-5. doi: 10.1345/aph.1E001. Epub 2004 Oct 12.


Background: Over 1000 medications contain pork- and/or beef-derived gelatin and stearic acid as inert ingredients. Use of these medications in patients with religious beliefs against consumption of these ingredients might constitute an ethical conflict.

Objective: To assess patients' and physicians' attitudes about using medications with religiously prohibited ingredients derived from pork and/or beef.

Methods: In this pilot study, 100 patients and 100 physicians completed a survey designed to assess their knowledge and opinion on using medications that might contain inert ingredients derived from animals whose consumption offends followers of certain religions.

Results: Of the 100 patients surveyed, most (84%) reported that they were not aware that several medications contained ingredients derived from pork and/or beef. About 63% of the patients wanted their physicians, and 35% of the patients wanted their non-physician healthcare providers (pharmacists, nurses), to inform them when using such medications. Thirteen percent of the patients shared religious reasons for not consuming pork and/or beef products. Approximately 70% of physicians were unaware that several medications contain ingredients that might be against their patients' religion, and most (70%) thought that it was important to inform their patients if such drugs were prescribed.

Conclusions: This pilot study suggests that both patients and physicians think that patients should be informed whenever medications that contain pork- and/or beef-derived products are prescribed. The use of medications with these ingredients is an ethical issue. Informing patients about this issue promotes respect for their religious beliefs and may promote therapeutic alliance; therefore, this might have public health implications and needs further research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cattle
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Culture
  • Drug Prescriptions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meat*
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Swine