Wednesday July 17, 2019

Inactive Ingredients in Medicines May Cause Allergy: Study

Precision care and the role for regulation and legislation are essential when it comes to labelling medications that contain an ingredient that may cause an adverse reaction

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Cervical Cancer
A woman suffering from cervical cancer takes her medicine at a treatment facility in Beijing, China, June 23, 2016. VOA

Be cautious while taking medicines as a new study suggests that some ingredients added to pills to improve their shelf life may cause allergy or lead to adverse reactions.

The study found that more than 90 per cent of all oral medications tested contained at least one ingredient including lactose, peanut oil, gluten and chemical dyes that can cause gastrointestinal issues and difficulty in breathing in sensitive individuals.

These components are added to improve the taste, shelf life, absorption and other characteristics of a pill, said researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

“There are hundreds of different versions of pills or capsules that deliver the same medication using a different combination of inactive ingredients,” said Daniel Reker from the varsity.

For the study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the team analysed data on inactive ingredients in over 42,000 oral medications that contained more than 350,000 inactive ingredients.

pregnant women, measles
A nurse holds a vial of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine at Boston Children’s Hospital in Boston, Feb. 26, 2015. VOA

The findings showed a total of 38 inactive ingredients that cause allergic symptoms after oral exposure. Approximately 45 per cent of medications contained lactose, nearly 33 per cent contained a food dye, and 0.08 per cent contained peanut oil.

For certain drugs, such as progesterone, there are few alternatives that do not contain this inactive ingredient.

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“While we call these ingredients ‘inactive’, in many cases they are not. While the doses may be low, we don’t know what the threshold is for individuals to react in the majority of instances,” the researchers noted.

Precision care and the role for regulation and legislation are essential when it comes to labelling medications that contain an ingredient that may cause an adverse reaction, the team suggested. (IANS)

Next Story

No more Standing in Queues for Long Hours! Now South Africans to get Medicine from Vending Machines

Hutiri explains why he created the Pelebox

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vending machines
Inventor Neo Hutiri poses in front of one of his Peleboxes. (T. Khumalo/VOA)

An innovative system to dispense medicine to patients with chronic illnesses is taking off in South Africa. The award-winning “Pelebox,” created by South African engineer Neo Hutiri, is a computer-controlled vending machine stocked with prescription drugs, which patients access using a personal code.

The Pelebox has been hailed as a life saver for many, who use often-crowded South African hospitals and clinics. The medicine dispenser resembles the common automated teller machine and functions in a similar way. Hutiri explains why he created the Pelebox.

“If you have been to public clinics, one of the biggest challenges that you face is spending hours and hours to get access to your chronic medication. The idea was very simple: Can we create a technology, locally manufactured, locally born idea where we can get somebody to collect medication in a couple of seconds, instead of waiting for hours?” asked Hutiri.

Details of each patient are uploaded into a computer system connected to the machine. The patient must indicate the clinic or point where they want to get their medication. The machine consists of a simple wall of lockers controlled by a digital system. And Hutiri, who once had a chronic illness, explains the most exciting experience for patients.

vending machines, medicine
Jenifer Shingange, a patient with a chronic illness, says the Pelebox has been a god-sent for her (T. Khumalo/VOA)

“We take pre-packed medicine, we would scan the medicine, load it inside the unit. It then sends an SMS to a patient saying ‘Neo your medication is ready for collection, here is a one-time pin, please come and collect your medication at Winnie Mandela clinic.’ The patient simply walks to the unit. On that touch screen, enters their cell phone together with a pin. It pops open the door. They collect and they are on their way,” said Hutiri.

The technology, first introduced in 2016, has been a hit among patients. There are 11 Peleboxes already operational across the country. For years, 45-year-old Jenifer Shingange, a beneficiary of the technology, had to line up at dawn to collect her medication every month. She says since she started getting her drugs from the Peleboxes, she chooses a time that suits her, including after work.

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“I would like to say very thank you. Thank you so much. What is making me excited is that when I come here I don’t stand in a long queue. I just put my cellphone and pin and press and get my treatment,” said Shingange.

The Aurum Institute, a leading health care organization that has partnered with Hutiri, expects to introduce 10 more machines in the city of Ekurhuleni. Up to 26 machines will be functioning across the country by September. With each of the Peleboxes serving over 1,200 patients a month, authorities say they will go a long way toward shortening lines in hospitals and clinics. (VOA)