Updated: Aug 29, 2020
After reviewing the concerns around animal-derived ingredients (ADI) labeling and the current policies surrounding the issue, the AMA (2019) recommends the following:
1. Urges manufacturers to include all ingredients and components present in medical products on the product label, including both active and inactive ingredients, and denote any derived from an animal source.
2. Encourages cultural awareness regarding patient preferences associated with medical products containing active or inactive ingredients or components derived from animal sources.
The American Medical Association (AMA) is the largest association of physicians and medical students in the United States. In addition to overseeing many other guiding medical documents, the AMA maintains the AMA Code of Medical Ethics, which outlines the standard for physician ethics. At the 2018 Interim Meeting, the Michigan Delegation introduced the measure "Information Regarding Animal Derived Medications," requesting "that our American Medical Association (AMA): (1) support efforts to improve cultural awareness pertaining to the use of animal-derived medications when considering different prescription options and (2) encourage the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make available to the public an easily accessible database that identifies medications containing ingredients derived from animals (AMA 2019)."
There are many people who avoid animal-derived ingredients (ADI). For some, their religion forbids the consumption of use of animal products. Others subscribe to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. These people often ask after the origin of the ingredients in a specific product so that they may make an informed decision, but this information can be difficult to obtain or the answer may be vague. Many people are not aware that their products contain animal products, and may be consuming the offending ingredient without their knowledge (AMA 2019). A survey published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (as cited by AMA 2019) " indicated that 84% of patients and 70% of physicians were unaware that several medications contain ADIs. Additionally, 70% of physicians thought it was important to inform patients who might object if such medications are prescribed."
The FDA maintains current good manufacturing practices, but these practices do NOT include guidance around labeling for ADIs. The FDA does maintain a database with information on active and inactive ingredients for research purposes, but the database does not include the source of the ingredient. The USP-NF requires pharmaceuticals to list every active and inactive ingredients, but the manufacturer is not required to state how the ingredient was sourced.
In line with the current AMA guidelines, VeganMed is committed to better labeling. Your medicine label should be transparent and easy-to-understand. Our Animal-Free Certification is the first pharmacist-backed program that conducts laboratory testing on products. We create resources for those that want to buy animal-free medicines, including a partnership with Scriptworks that creates custom-made prescription medicines and a curated, company-verified marketplace of over-the-counter medicine, supplements, and vitamins.
If you have concerns about your medicine, please do not stop taking your medication without first speaking with your healthcare provider.
AMA. “2018 Interim Meeting: Reports of the Board of Trustees.”American Medical Association, June 2019, www.ama-assn.org/system/files/2019-06/i18-bot-reports.pdf.