Hormones Matter TM

Phthalates in Medication Coatings

January 16, 2012  |  Stacey Aragon


Recent research by medical scientists has confirmed the presence of phthalates in a multitude of commonly used prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, and supplements.  Phthalates are often added to the enteric coatings of pills and vitamins, to help improve the plasticity of time-released and target-released tablets and capsules.  Some plastic additives, such as Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), however, have also been linked to hormone- and reproduction-related illnesses and disorders.

DBP, for example, has been tied to the suppression of steroidogenesis, which can, in turn, affect the onset of puberty. DBP also affects androgen, estrogen, and corticoid levels.  In fact, the European Union permanently banned the use of DBP in all children’s toys and childcare items, due to the high risk of infants and young children inadvertently ingesting the substance by sucking or chewing on plastic toys or nursery items.  The United States also limited the allowable amount of DBP permitted in the manufacturing of such products over similar dangers, as well.

How can concerned patients, caregivers, and parents effectively monitor medicines and supplements for harmful phthalates, when not all suppliers list them or other inactive ingredients?  And, what choices do people really have when phthalate-free alternatives are not available?  A person cannot realistically discontinue the use of daily health aids or life-saving treatments to avoid toxic phthalates. It seems counter-intuitive to coat medications that are important to one’s overall health with something potentially poisonous.