When you open your medicine cabinet, you are most likely greeted by all kinds of different colored medications: orange ibuprofen, red cough drops, colored antacid tablets; just to name a few.
Why are dyes added to medication?
There are a couple reasons pharmaceutical companies use dyes in their medicines. The different colors can help differentiate one medication from another, especially for those who take several medications a day.
Another reason is simply that color can make the medicine more attractive to the consumer. It’s not an accident that some women’s laxatives are pink, or children’s gummies are bright and appealing.
According to a study from MIT, 33% of all medications contain at least one chemical dye. The problem with using chemical dyes is that sometimes they can cause an allergic reaction or adverse event, especially for vulnerable populations. Several chemical dyes have also been linked to hyperactivity in children.
Common Dyes in Medications
The dye Blue No. 1 is added to 3,459 oral products. If you have any medicines in your home, there is a good chance this dye is an ingredient in one of those products.
Red No. 40
If you have ever consumed a liquid medication that was cherry, strawberry, or had any type of “berry” flavor, there is a good chance Red No. 40 is used as an inactive ingredient.
Yellow No. 6
FD&C Yellow No. 6 is another dye commonly used in children’s cough syrup and anti-inflammatory drugs. The FDA requires all medications that contain this dye to inform all consumers on the back of the label.
Yellow No. 10
FD&C Yellow No. 10 Aluminum Lake is a commonly used dye in medications and cosmetics; however, it is not approved as a food coloring dye additive in the US. This dye can be hidden in red-colored products, such as the laxative Dulcolax.
How to Determine What your Allergy Stems From
If you experience an adverse event or allergic reaction to a medicine, it can be difficult to tell if you are allergic to the actual medicine or to an inactive ingredient. Think about the other medications you experience reactions to and try to determine the common factor in the medicine. If you find that both medications contain the same ingredient, that might be the ingredient that is causing allergic or adverse reactions. If you have a sensitivity to a chemical dye, which are often used for coating purposes, you could try uncoated medications to see if you have the same adverse reaction.
What You Can Do
We always recommended speaking with your healthcare provider about any potential allergies or sensitivities you may have. When buying OTC medicine, be sure to read both the active and inactive ingredients listed on the label.
Additionally, you can also speak with a pharmacist about any questions you may have regarding a product’s ingredients and label. If they don’t have the answers, they can call the manufacturer on a patient’s behalf.
Genexa: A Dye-Free Medication for Your Patients
At Genexa, we offer medications that are free of GMOs, artifical dyes and common allergens, while using the same active ingredients you know and trust. Genexa replaces artificial dyes with ingredients such as organic beet root so that you can get the medicine that you need without any potentially harmful side effects.