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I know it has been awhile since I’ve posted, but I’m back! And 2014 is a new year!

A little recap of the last 6 months: I moved to Denver in May; I picked up a cooking hobby over the summer and I hope to work on my very own cookbook in 2014; my boyfriend was in the hospital for a week from an a-typical pneumonia (poor guy); I was scuba certified in September, so it’s about time to plan that exotic getaway with my man in 2014; I had foot surgery on both feet to remove some rheumatoid nodules in October; I had to get pre-melanoma cells removed on my back in November; and then the very busy, but amazing, holidays! It has been quite a 2013, and I am looking forward to a fresh start.

Speaking of a fresh start…I changed biologics in September to treat the Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was taking Cimzia, which was a self-injection biologic similar to Enbrel, but it wasn’t quite hitting the spot. I was still swelling and having to take Aleve like it was candy. So my new Rheumatologist, Dr. Zachariah at the Colorado Arthritis Center, wanted me to try Orencia. This is a different type of biologic that works early in the rheumatoid arthritis inflammatory process at the T-cell level, reducing the activity of the T cells, which reduces the activation of other cells in the rheumatoid arthritis inflammatory process. I also take this biologic as infusion once a month, so a lot less hassle.

Only downside is that it could take up to 6 months to “kick-in”. I started Orencia in September and after 4 months of infusions it is just starting to work for the pain and inflammation. In the meantime, my doctor prescribed me anti-inflammatories and some pain medication for overnight when I just couldn’t handle it. I’ve noticed that I don’t need as many anti-inflammatories (Diclofenac) after the last infusion on the 2nd, but I am still swelling, just not as much pain. So the doctor has also prescribed me Hydroxychloroquine, originally an anti-malarial medication that also treats auto-immune diseases such as lupus and RA.

And here’s where I get to the “just ask” part…I went to Walgreens and asked for the inactive ingredients for the Hydroxychloroquine tablets. NOTE FOR GLUTEN-FREE READERS: This is something I always do at a pharmacy. You can ask for the pamphlet that came with the bottle and search at the top of the page for the ingredients and inactive ingredients breakdown to check for gluten! Unfortunately, the tablets they stocked included pre-gelatinized starch, but this is vague. Starch can come from any source, some gluten-free, some not. So I asked the Walgreens Compounding department about creating a gluten-free version, but they were not able to order the active/main ingredient for me. So my last resort was to call the Manufacturer.

I sent an email and also left a voice message for the US Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals location. I had Walgreens send me the NDC#, name and dosage so I could ask exactly what the pre-gelatinized starch source was. Within 24 hours, they called me back. Can you believe that?! Good news is that the source of the starch is corn so I can take the generic Hydroxychloroquine, as long as it is from Ranbaxy as the manufacturer.

So don’t forget, if you’re worried about the gluten in a medication, just ask your pharmacist and ask the manufacturer. They can actually be very helpful!