Guidelines for Medication – Passover 2014

OU Kosher Staff

1. You should exercise extreme caution and consult with your doctor and rabbi before making a decision not to take a medicine.

2. Known and tested medications in the form of creams, non-chewable pills and injections may be owned, used and consumed on Passover, even if they contain chametz or kitniyot, since they are inedible. This covers most medicines used by adults. However, if an equally effective chametz-free alternative is available or procurable, this should be used instead.

  • It is permissible to grind pills and mix the powder into food items so that a child can take medicine on Passover. However, a doctor must be consulted to make sure that the child is getting the correct dosage and that the potency of the pill is not compromised by altering its consistency.

3. Liquid medicines, chewable pills and pills coated with a flavored glaze are considered palatable and may contain chametz. Also gelcaps may present a problem because they may contain non-kosher edible gelatin. Therefore:

  • If possible, they should be replaced, under the direction of a doctor, with a non-chewable, uncoated pill.
  • If substitution is not possible and the person is in a state of sakana or safek sakana (any possible danger to human life), the medication may be owned and consumed. The same applies if the condition is not yet a safek sakana but may deteriorate to that point. A rabbi should be consulted as to whether it is preferable to purchase the medicine before or during Passover, and as to how to dispose of the medicine once the danger passes.
  • If substitution is not possible and a doctor determines that there is no possibility of sakana if the person does not take the medicine, a rabbi should be consulted. He may be able to determine that the medicine does not contain chametz and/or kitniyot, or he may decide that the medicine may be consumed due to the seriousness of the patient’s condition.

4. In many cases, medicinal items which contain kitniyot are permitted for people who are ill. Questions on this issue should be directed to your rabbi.

5. These guidelines do not address the more general prohibition of consuming medicines on Shabbat and Yom Tov.