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Putting Patients First: The Complicated Truth about Medications and Animal-Derived Ingredients

Based on a true story. Names of persons, companies, and products have been kept anonymous to protect privacy.

Patient X has alpha-gal allergy. They knew even a tiny amount of meat or mammalian-derived ingredients could trigger a reaction that could be life-threatening. That’s why when their doctor wanted to prescribe a new medication, they reached out to the VeganMed team first to figure out which medications are alpha-gal safe.

Our team contacted the pharmaceutical company and explained the patient’s concern. They investigated and verbally told us that the medication did not contain any animal-derived ingredients and would send us a written confirmation. We passed the information to Patient X and they were relieved and grateful for the news.

The following day, the pharmaceutical company sent an email confirming the conversation we had and provided additional information. However, when our pharmacists reviewed the document, our team discovered conflicting statements that required further clarification. We had to contact the company again to ensure that we had an accurate understanding of the situation.

Despite the fact that the first sentence of the document stated that no animal-derived ingredients were used directly in the final formulation of the medication, our team discovered through further review and a second conversation with the pharmaceutical company that this was not entirely accurate. The document went on to reveal that certain ingredients used in the manufacturing process were sourced from animals, ultimately leading us to conclude that the medication was not safe for alpha-gal patients and was not free of animal-derived ingredients (see images below).

Statement on the first page of letter received

Statements found on the second page indicating presence of animal-derived ingredients

Overall, Patient X along with our team were disappointed and frustrated. Fortunately in this instance, we prevented a possible reaction based on the patient’s previous history. Of note, Patient X appreciated our team for being honest and our diligence in securing accurate information.

Transparency and accuracy in labeling is crucial for medications. It is estimated that over 1 million Americans suffer from alpha-gal syndrome (AGS) and 76% of them have previously reacted to animal-derived ingredients in medications. Further, 49% of those AGS patients reported having had an anaphylactic reaction to health products.

Research has indicated that pharmaceutical companies are not always informed or understand the AGS or vegan patients. Some data suggests that the standard responses from a medical information center can be inaccurate 50% of the time. Due to the grave consequences for patients like AGS, it is imperative that independent and third-party certification processes are put in place to ensure that the information provided is trustworthy and accurate. The pharmaceutical industry must take this issue seriously and work towards providing clear and precise information to both healthcare professionals and patients.

It's time to prioritize patient safety and well-being. Patient X's story is just one of many examples of why the industry needs to step up and improve their practices.

Our team at VeganMed is working diligently to help those practicing an animal-free lifestyle by:

  1. Providing comprehensive medication search for patients and medical professionals

  2. Being the only animal-free certification mark dedicated to the healthcare industry

  3. Having the largest online resource for animal-free health products

We envision a world where understanding medication contents is as easy as reading a food label. While that day has yet to come, we are proud to lead the way towards greater transparency and accuracy in medication labeling. Our goal is to empower patients with the information they need to make informed decisions about their health, and we are committed to advocating for the health and safety of all individuals.

We encourage you to reach out to us to learn more about our certification program and how we can partner together to promote patient wellbeing.


Disclaimer: The product and/or information provided on VeganMed is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We do not lab test the products to confirm that they are free from animal ingredients, and it is possible that the formulation and ingredients could have changed. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or product.


Looking for certified and verified animal-free products?

Thank you for your awareness and concern for animal-derived ingredients!

If you have any further questions about ingredients in your medicines and supplements, feel free to reach out to the VeganMed team!

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