Gluten in pharmaceutical products: a scoping review

Syst Rev. 2021 Aug 7;10(1):218. doi: 10.1186/s13643-021-01772-9.


Background: Celiac disease (CD) is one of the most common gluten-related disorders. Although the only effective treatment is a strict gluten-free diet, doubts remain as to whether healthcare professionals take this restriction into consideration when prescribing and dispensing medicines to susceptible patients. This scoping review aimed to find out the current evidence for initiatives that either describe the gluten content of medicines or intend to raise awareness about the risk of prescribing and dispensing gluten-containing medicines in patients with CD and other gluten-related disorders.

Methods: A scoping review was conducted using three search strategies in PubMed/MEDLINE, TripDatabase and Web of Science in April 2021, following the PRISMA extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR). References from included articles were also examined. Two researchers screened the articles and results were classified according to their main characteristics and outcomes, which were grouped according to the PCC (Population, Concept and Context) framework. The initiatives described were classified into three targeted processes related to gluten-containing medicines: prescription, dispensation and both prescription and dispensation.

Results: We identified a total of 3146 records. After the elimination of duplicates, 3062 articles remained and ultimately 13 full texts were included in the narrative synthesis. Most studies were conducted in the US, followed by Canada and Australia, which each published one article. Most strategies were focused on increasing health professional's knowledge of gluten-containing/gluten-free medications (n = 8), which were basically based on database development from manufacturer data. A wide variability between countries on provided information and labelling of gluten-containing medicines was found.

Conclusion: Initiatives regarding the presence of gluten in medicines, including, among others, support for prescribers, the definition of the role of pharmacists, and patients' adherence problems due to incomplete labelling of the medicines, have been continuously developed and adapted to the different needs of patients. However, information is still scarce, and some aspects have not yet been considered, such as effectiveness for the practical use of solutions to support healthcare professionals.

Keywords: Celiac disease; Diet, gluten-free; Excipients; Gluten; Pharmaceutical preparations; Scoping review.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Celiac Disease* / drug therapy
  • Diet, Gluten-Free
  • Glutens
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Pharmacists


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Glutens