Congressman Tim Ryan Recognizes National Celiac Disease Awareness Day
Washington, DC – Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13) today recognized National Celiac Disease Awareness Day. September 13th was designated National Celiac Disease Awareness Day in order to shed light on an issue that affects three million Americans living with celiac disease – a genetic autoimmune disorder in which ingesting gluten causes damage to the villi of the small intestine. It also honors Dr. Samuel Gee, a pioneer in celiac disease research who first identified the link between celiac disease and diet. He was born on September 13, 1839. The only treatment to celiac disease is the total elimination of gluten-containing products, including wheat, barley, and rye sources.
On April 3, 2019, Congressman Ryan introduced the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act of 2019 (H.R. 2074). This legislation would require drug manufacturers to label medications’ ingredients, their source, and whether gluten is present. In 2004, the Food Allergen Labeling Consumer Protection Act required packaged food labels to identify all ingredients containing wheat and other allergens, but this requirement did not extend to prescription drugs. After repeated efforts to shed light on this issue, the FDA released draft guidance in 2017 encouraging drug manufacturers to disclose the presence of gluten. While some manufacturers have taken this step, it has not been implemented consistently. This leads to anxiety of not knowing whether or not your medicine is doing more harm than good. The full text of the bill can be found here.
“Millions of Americans who have celiac disease deserve to know if their prescription drugs contain gluten. Without this critical information and proper labeling, their medication could be doing more harm than good. The American people shouldn’t be kept in the dark about whether or not their medication includes ingredients that could make them sick. This needs to change. I introduced the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act to increase transparency and consistency in prescription drug labeling and ensure the health and wellbeing of Americans who have celiac disease,” said Congressman Ryan.
“Our community needs to have confidence that their medicines are helping them, not hurting them. Imagine if your child with celiac disease needs medication. Right now, there's no way to know for sure if the medicine will trigger an autoimmune cascade. This forces you to take a risk and play "gluten roulette" with your child's life. This legislation is long overdue,” said Alice Bast, CEO of Beyond Celiac.
“Celiac disease is a serious disease that, to date, has not been taken seriously enough. The millions of people who suffer from this disease should not have to guess whether or not they can safely take needed medicines. Thanks to the leadership of Congressmen Ryan and Cole, this bill has brought needed attention to this issue and to the daily dangers of celiac disease itself. I hope other Members of Congress will join them in supporting this important legislation,” said Marilyn Geller, CEO and President of the Celiac Disease Foundation
“The countless stories that we hear at the National Celiac Association echo the critical importance of knowing if gluten is in your medication or not. From doctors halting their decisions based on the unknown, to EMTs choosing IV pain medication instead of oral, to a mom not knowing if she can start an antibiotic for her child with an infection...we could go on. This is why the Gluten in Medicine Disclosure Act is so vital to the celiac community, and we urge Congress to pass this bill immediately,” said Lee Graham, Executive Director and CEO of the National Celiac Association.