Many drugs are 'non-vegetarian'28th February 2012
A study published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal has found vegetarians and vegans could be unknowingly taking medicines which contain animal products.
A spokesman for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said that EU laws meant all products had to have an accompanying leaflet which showed a list of ingredients.
He said: "Patients are able to check if a product contains a material which may cause them concern. If patients are unsure if an ingredient is derived from animals they can seek the advice of their pharmacist or contact the company manufacturing the product."
He added that there was "a general trend" for companies to stop the use of animal ingredients in their products.
The researchers said many medicines contained gelatin, which is made from animal bones, and 25% of patients were given drugs which they did not realise contained animal ingredients.
The team, from Manchester Royal Infirmary, carried out a survey of 500 patients and discovered that 40% did not use animal-derived products because they were vegetarian, vegan or for religious reasons.
The researchers said 49 out of 200 people were found to be taking medicines which contained animal products without their knowledge.
They wrote: "In particular, we would recommend that every doctor needs to be aware that it is not just the active drug being dispensed but a whole group of other agents which may have relevance to an individual patient's compliance with treatment when oral treatments are prescribed."
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