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Pharmacy and Medications

Fish in Generic Medicines

10/10/2011

Question:

I have an allergy to fish and was astounded to discover that a lot of Rx drugs use fish meal to solidify the small pill so it does not crumble. Is this true? Thank you

Answer:

According to the FDA, as of July 15, 2011, fish meal is not listed as an inactive ingredient in any prescription medication. The FDA updates this list four times per year in January, April, July, and October.
 
Keep in mind that there are many manufacturers out there that make the same generic drug, but each company uses different inactive ingredients in the pill. Therefore, I would advise you to let your local pharmacy know if you are allergic to fish AND ask your pharmacist if the drug contains fish products as inactive ingredients EVERY time you pick up a prescription because pharmacies often get the same drug from different manufacturers.

If the manufacturer of your pill has changed, the inactive ingredients have changed as well. The pharmacist has access to the inactive ingredients for every brand or generic drug they dispense.

Also, read the label of any over-the-counter medicine or herbal supplement you purchase to identify the inactive ingredients. If they aren't listed on the label, there is always a phone number listed on the label that you can call. When in doubt, ask the pharmacist.

References: http://www.fda.gov/  

Ben Condra, PharmD Student

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Response by:

David Baker, PharmD, DABAT
Formerly, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pharmacy
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University