Clinical: What advice should I give to Muslim patients re: medicines containing alcohol?

Unfortunately, there is no single answer to this query. There are four main schools of thought in Islam, and each has differing views on this subject. Alcohol as an intoxicant is completely forbidden, but in certain circumstances it may be ingested. Some believe that it should only ever be taken, even if in miniscule amounts, in life-or-death situations. Others would rule that if the medicine containing alcohol is prescribed and will confer greater benefit than harm, then it is permissible.

As with all aspects of healthcare, personal belief and feelings can also influence an individual's decisions when accessing pharmacy services. As such, you may find that some who follow Islam may wish to avoid alcohol-containing medicines completely. If a Muslim patient is unsure of whether or not they may take a medication containing alcohol, it is best to refer them to their Imam, who can provide guidance. This will avoid any inadvertent misinformation.