Medicines Containing Gelatine

WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (WHO) Letter Reports On Islamic Legal Scholars' Verdict on the Medicinal Use Of Gelatin Derived From Pork Products

From: IAC EXPRESS Issue Number 400 July 21, 2003

A letter written in July 2001 by the Regional Office of the World Health Organization (WHO) for the Eastern Mediterranean reported on the findings of more than one hundred Islamic legal scholars who met to clarify Islamic purity laws. The scholars met in 1995 at a seminar convened by the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences on the topic "The Judicially Prohibited and Impure Substances in Foodstuff and Drugs."

The topic is of interest to the immunization community because some vaccines contain pork gelatin. In Islamic law, pork and pork products are impure, and observant Muslims do not consume them. Quoting from a statement issued by the scholars, the letter states the following: "The seminar issued a number of recommendations, included in the attached statement, stipulating that 'Transformation which means the conversion of a substance into another substance, different in characteristics, changes substances that are judicially impure . . . into pure substances, and changes substances that are prohibited into lawful and permissible substances'."

Consequently, the scholars determined that the transformation of pork products into gelatin alters them sufficiently to make it permissible for observant Muslims to receive vaccines containing pork gelatin and to take medicine packaged in gelatin capsules.

Please click on the link below to directly access the WHO letter and the seminar statement which has been sent to us by NHS England

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