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Guest Blog: What's All That Other Stuff In My Medicine?


If you read enough supplement advertisements, like I do, you'll often see the purity of a product often cited as one of its merits. It's usually some phrase like:

Contains no binders! No fillers! No colours! No excipients! No starch! No gluten! No coatings! No flow agents!

It's a point of pride for supplement manufacturers to advertise that their product contains nothing but the labelled ingredient. And that's also seen as an important benefit to many that purchase supplements. The perception from many consumers (based on my personal experience) seems to be that products are inferior if they contain non-drug ingredients. By this measure, drug products are problematic. Pharmaceuticals all contain an array of binders, coatings, supplements and fillers.  Even (gasp) artificial ingredients and sweeteners! And they're often, though not always, disclosed on the package label.

But rather than being a negative feature, these supplementary, non-medicinal ingredients play a critical role in ensuring that drug products are of consistent and reproducible quality. Without them, we'd have products that are potentially unstable, we'd be unclear if they were actually being absorbed, and we wouldn't know if they actually delivered any active ingredients into the body. In short, we'd be in the same situation we're currently in with many herbal remedies and other types of supplements...Read More



More Blog Posts by Scott Gavura

author bio

Scott Gavura, BScPhm, MBA, RPh, works in the Ontario cancer system and has a professional interest in improving the cost-effective use of drugs at the population level, primarily focusing on evaluating new drugs.  He is a registered pharmacist in Ontario. He blogs on the Science-Based Pharmacy blog which he describes as “Turning an eye on the profession, separating fact from fiction on both sides of the counter”. This post originally appeared on the Science-Based Medicine blog.

Tags for this article:
Prescription Drugs   Scott Gavura   Make Good Treatment Decisions   Promote your Health   Inside Healthcare  

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