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Medications have to pass safety tests before they can be prescribed, and these tests are routinely carried out on non-human animals. Medications may also contain animal ingredients such as gelatine, lactose or stearates. In some cases alternative medications can be prescribed. However, they may be unsuitable for you or less effective, or they may have more side effects. In other cases there are no alternatives.

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your concerns regarding animal ingredients. You can also contact the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to enquire about medication ingredients derived from animals using the email address info[at][dot]uk.

'As far as practicable and possible'

Vegans avoid using animals 'as far as is practicable and possible'. This definition recognises that it is not always possible to make a choice that avoids the use of animals. Sometimes, you may have no alternative to taking prescribed medication. Looking after yourself and other people enables you to be an effective advocate for veganism.

Looking ahead

Concerns about medications were raised during the first meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vegetarianism and Veganism, and discussions continue. Charities like Animal Free Research UK (formerly the Dr Hadwen Trust) are supporting the development of techniques and procedures to replace the use of non-human animals in biomedical research.

Together with your doctor, decide what is best for your health. Never stop taking prescribed medications without first talking to your doctor.

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