Although drugs in the form of tablets are commonly associated with modern medicine, pills were actually invented more than 3,500 years ago. Ancient Egyptians made pills by pulverising various seeds, leaves and plant resins together. The powder was then mixed with honey or grease and shaped by hand into little spheres. The common ingredients were saffron, myrrh, cinnamon and other medicinal plants.
Since then, pharmaceuticals have come a long way. But for most consumers who don’t have a background in medicine or pharmacy, the ingredients listed on the packaging of our medicine might as well be in Greek. How many of us know what the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) is, or pay attention to the various binders, lubricants, glidants and disintegrants that make up 80% of the ingredients of the tablet?
Many pharmaceutical products, for example, have trace amounts of alcohol to help the API — which makes up 10-15% of the pill — dissolve in the body when ingested. For most adults, small amounts of alcohol do not pose a problem. But for children or those with allergies to particular substances, it is worth paying attention to the ingredients.
In the case of halal pharmaceutical products, the use of alcohol as an excipient is controlled within limits set by the Ministry of Health. In accordance with Fatwa requirements, the ingredient must be made of synthetic materials and not from the production of liquor.
The emergence of halal pharmaceuticals heralds a new era for consumers and healthcare providers alike. The stringent requirements of halal certification serve as an additional layer of quality assurance as all raw materials need to be screened, documented and verified. This applies to every step of the manufacturing process.
Muslim and non-Muslim consumers alike benefit from the halal certification of pharmaceuticals as they provide a quality alternative product for consumers to make an informed choice.