Allergy risk caution

medicine label

TGA issues warning on medicines containing the ingredient Eucommia ulmoides

Pharmacists are advised that products in their pharmacy containing Eucommia ulmoides, often used in Chinese herbal medicine formulations that purport to have anti-inflammatory effects or provide relief of minor arthritic conditions, may pose a risk in individuals with latex allergy or sensitivity.

Eucommia ulmoides (also known as Du-Zhong or Tu-chung) is permitted for use in listed medicines in Australia that are available from a range of suppliers including chemists, health food stores and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners.

The TGA has recently become aware that the Eucommia ulmoides plant that makes up the herbal ingredient contains naturally occurring latex.

It is not currently required that the presence of latex be declared on medicine labels, explains the TGA. However exposure to latex can cause severe and sometimes life-threatening reactions in individuals with a latex allergy and should be avoided, particularly exposure to the mouth.

Allergic reactions to latex can vary and include immediate reactions, including anaphylaxis when severe, as well as irritant dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. All types require avoidance of contact with latex to prevent an allergic reaction.

The latex that is commonly used in commercial rubber products is obtained from a different plant, and the extent to which people with a latex allergy will react to latex in Eucommia ulmoides is still under investigation.

As part of this investigation, the TGA said it is considering whether a label statement is needed to declare the presence of latex in listed medicines that contain Eucommia ulmoides.

In the meantime, the TGA urges pharmacists to advise patients who are allergic to latex not to take products containing Eucommia ulmoides.

To date the TGA has received one report of an allergic reaction associated with a listed medicine that contained Eucommia ulmoides along with several other ingredients.

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