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Food Dyes and Colors (FD&C) in Medicines

Why, oh why, do pharmaceutical companies add artificial colors to our medications?

Seriously, who was it that decreed that Penicillin and its antibiotic derivatives must be pink? Is it really important that Liquid Children’s Tylenol be dyed red? How necessary is it to boost the color of cough syrup to purple? Why does the Sudafed pill need to be coated red?

If you are sensitive to some of the “approved” Food Dyes & Colors you might have a hard time finding both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription meds that are dye-free.

When my kids had strep throat earlier this year, we were forced to accept the red food dyes that made the Keflex liquid pink along with the necessary antibiotics. I could time my son’s reaction to the food dyes by the truly evil mood that appeared 7-8 hours after taking a dose. Since this is a typical effect that food dyes have on him, we knew to expect it and wait it out until it passed, almost an hour later. We were hugely thankful when we completed the 10-day antibiotic course and his happy personality returned.

In the quest to take my historically weak-stomached 8-year-old to a family reunion on a cruise ship, I assembled various natural motion sickness remedies and made a trip to Walgreen’s to select an over-the-counter medication. Of the 8 brands/types of OTC anti-motion sickness meds on the shelf, only two were free of yellow food dye.

But, I digress from the original question: why do drug makers add ingredients to medicines that are not medicinal?

It drives me crazy.

Posted in: Living naturally

17 Comments on “Food Dyes and Colors (FD&C) in Medicines

  1. I open the capsule and dissolve the contents in water. No need to eat the capsule or get a compounded product at all.

  2. My daughter has had 13 anaphylaxis episode from colors being hidden in food medication. I have called the FDA and have written to local government officials. I’ve also called many manufactures. I’ve signed petitions. I feel as if I get no where. She was in the hospital this past week and the nurses still tried to give her Tylenol that was white with red writing. There have been times after being rushed by ambulance for a color anaphylaxis episode that when she was being released from the hospital the emergency room doctors prescribe her prednisone and previcid with color to take home (has happened many times.) Hello? How can Europe use natural colors why can’t we. Angry and desperate for the FDA to make changes to these poisons that color our food and medication

  3. Why does Sudafed PE hace 3 coloring dyes, if its just for color wouldn’t 1 be enough? Or do these dyes make a difference in the effect of the med.?

    1. The bright red Sudafed is objectionable. What I do is put the tabs in the palm of my hand, add a little water and rub lightly. Once the red is almost gone, swallow it immediately, or it turns into bitter-tasting mush.

  4. Just another example of consumers being manipulated, lied to and put at risk by BigMoney. There is not one valid reason for any of these medications to be artificially colored. “Blue dye for calming visual effect?” Yeah, sure.

    We are not all ignoramuses.

  5. są trafne ukazać suma istot weselnych, jednocześnie z ustronnymi, gdyby
    numerują iż znaczenie się na nie dostarczy im typową
    korzyść. Stanowią głęboko oziębłe tudzież
    gdyby ano toteż mogę zwerbować – bezlitosne. W 4 ewenementach na 5 przejrzyście zaabsorbowane podejściem uzasadnień
    do zgromadzonego groszu.

  6. Colours are added for SAFETY if a child has taken a suspected overdose of a pill or liquid or just accidentally ingested something when questioned the child can more likely identify it when asked ie ” i took the blue one or i drank the purple stuff ” and it stops stressed out parents mixing up things and also being able to identify things.

    My god people cant you just think sometimes!!

    1. It’s unfortunate that there are enough cases of accidental ingestion of medications that would warrant using petroleum-based non-medicinal ingredients to color-code our drug supply. If medications MUST be colored, then they should use safer, non-allergenic methods of doing so.

      My suggestion: nurture your health so that you can avoid taking toxic medications in the first place!

      1. Exactly!!! And if this person thought for a moment about there comment they would have perhaps come upon the thought that there are “food based” and”natural” food dye that could serve the sane purpose. Sad world we live in.

      2. Exactly!!! And if this person thought for a moment about their comment they would have perhaps come upon the thought that there are “food based” and”natural” food dye that could serve the same purpose. Sad world we live in.

    2. Well Alan, I am sorry you feel the need to speak down to us, lowly Moms, with kids that react negatively to artificial food dyes. But unless you have witnessed your own child, having an out of body experience, due to artificial food dyes, I suggest you leave your sarcasm at the door. Let me school you in what happens to my particular four year old after certain artificial food dyes. Lets see….ah, yes, 1) goes completely out of his mind hyperactive, this includes but not limited to, running in circles, bouncing off walls (literally), throwing things, and going out of his mind 2) becomes extremely violent, which includes but is not limited to: beating the crud of out anyone or everyone in his path 3) crashes and says to me .. I don’t understand what is happening mom, I feel so out of control, while tears are streaming down his face.

      So Alan, unless you have stood on this threshold hold with me and my four year old. Check your sarcasm at the door.

      There are other ways to color medication naturally, that has nothing to do with artificial food dyes. Veggie and fruit dyes, plant extracts.. and all that will not interact with the medications.

      So Alan, again, do your research, and check your attitude at the door.

      1. I am resedning this b/c I think I sent it to Alan by mistake. I have an excellent solution if your child must have ana ntibiotic. You can have a specuial type of pharmacy exclude the dyes, and all ingredients except the pure drug, if the drug is generic. These are compounding pharmacies. They get the pure drug from the pharmaceutical company and put it into a hypoallergenic capsyule for an adults or a hypoallergenic liquid for a child. Then you get all the benefit and no bad side effect.

        The prescription form your doctor must haave the instructions “Permission to be Compounded” If your pediatrician refuses or denies the efficacy of this process he/she is ignorant-find another doctor. I can reccommend some compounding pharmnaciues I ahave used in the past that do this.
        1)Hopewell Pharmacy in hopewell new jersey (they mail the rx. to your home)
        A very good compounding pharmacy in Edison NJ-forget the name–they do not deliver
        There are 2 other compounding pharmacies I have used but only for hormones (I am 70–but still allergic to dyes and excipients)–These are:

        1) American Hormones in Ulster county NY-compounding pharm I do not know if they compound Rx, meds, call and see they do deliver.

        2) Tuckhannok Compoundin Center (TCC>COM) in Tuckhannock, PA. they deliver. I currently use them for hormones. I had been using compounded T4 and T3–the drugs form the pharmaceutical co. because I am allergic to the dyes in the Rx. tabs. but now use a natural thyroid called NP instead. So I know they can compound Rx. drugs. I currently Use TCC because thqt is where my hormone/thyroid dr. is. But they are very good and deliver al over the country. Also Hopewell is very good for what you need and deliver sounty wide.

        I think this may help you
        Good luck

        Marilyn Grashow

    3. Many of us are allergic to food colours. Yes we think, we think we don’t want colours or artificial sweeteners in our medicine. They give me severe headaches. All medicine must be kept out of the reach of children. You stop and think.

    4. Guess what??? I have your solution and it is an excellent one. It deals very often with children who have dye allergies. Here it is:

      First–get the dr. to have the RX. “Permission to be compounded” written and you bring it in, or faxed or electronically or called in to a good compounding pharmacy. They get the raw drug from the pharmaceutical company-if it is generic.They then put it into a clear hypoallergenic cap. or a hypoallergenic liquid. Then you get the excellent antibiotic result without the bad side effects. I have done this in the past. I do not know where you are located but compounding pharmacies mail all over the USA. The ones I have used that do this and are safe and excellent are: HOPEWELL pharmacy in hopewell, new Jersey. There is an excellent pharmacy ( regular and compounding like the hopewell one) that also do this but does not deliver. They are in Edison New Jersey. Other good compounding pharmacies I have used are American Hormones in Ulster County NY ( I do not know if they compound dye free meds-you can ask them) I currently use Tuckhannok Coumpounding Center in
      tuckhannok PA. but for hormones—I am going to contact them to see if they can do this for me the next time I need an antibiotic.

      I am not a 4 year old but am 70. I have severe allergic reactions to yellow dye. I also cannot take certain antibiotics because I am allergic to them. or they will increase my QT interval ( a heart thing)– I recently had a very bad bacterial infection (bronchial and sinus) following a nasty flu infection. The clindamycin I took was great for the infection but later caused asthma, severe broncho spasm, and 3 days into the ,meds caused huge hives and nodes on my arm and other areas. I had to go to the ER to get nebulized with xopeniex (broncho dilator) and had an intravenous administration of 120 mg. medrol (corticosteroid). That was 1/9. Today 2/11 I had again bronchospasm and asthma and had to take medrol tablets in a reducing dose starting at 6 per day of 4 mg. tablet. Luckily I was not having the reactions your 4 year old was having, that would have been terrifying-although not being able to breath or stop coughing has it’s own terrifying aspect, but I have the 70 yr. old perspective to know what to do. If I had been taken by ambulance to an er with your son’s symptoms I would probably have been treated with sedatives which would have given me asthma.

      Anyway-some advice—Find a very good compounding pharmacy. I have used this in the past. Have your doctor give you –or call in to the compounding pharmacy–an Rx. for the antibiotic or other Rx. with the written or phone communicated instruction “Permission to be Compounded”.
      What this means is that if the drug is generic, the compounding pharmacy can obtain the pure drug from the pharmaceutical company and put it into a clear capsule, or for a child into a hypoallergenic liquid–then the antibiotic works and the child or adult has no allergic responsE. I have done this in the past and obviously should have taken my own advice and done this with the current Rx. Hope this works for you.

      Good Luck

      Kind Regards
      Marilyn Grashow

  7. Mullein is also excellent for producing Cough Syrup, specifically for dry coughs. It possesses a soothing demulcent for the respiratory system. ‘Demulcent’ means a herb wealthy in mucilage that is soothing and in this situation is also delightful!.When you feel the leaves of Mullein they really feel wonderfully soft and silky which is a certain sign that the leaves have mucilage. Mucilage, although it sounds disgusting, is excellent stuff as it coats and protects mucous membranes lining the gut and respiratory system.`

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