Q. Are regular medical tablets or capsules, permitted during Pesach, when they are seriously needed? Is there any special way that would make their consumption more acceptable?
A. It is most important to stress that no one should refrain from taking any required medication, even if it contains chometz, and even if there is no great or imminent sakana or danger when not taken, without first consulting a competent Rov and a physician who are both familiar with one’s case.
In principle chewable pills and tablets or the ones coated with a flavored covering that turns them palatable, if they may contain chometz, they should be avoided and replaced with equal non-flavored medication.
Poskim maintain that this type of tasteless tablets and pills, even if they contain chometz, since they are unfit to be considered food and the chometz they contain does not qualify as such, are permitted.
Minchas Shlomo (1: 17), and others. explain that even according to the Noda Beyehuda’s opinion. that one transgresses the chometz prohibition when swallowing without chewing, it applies only to food that is usually chewed.
Igrois Moshe (O.H. 2: 92 – 3: 62), Kovetz Hilchos Pesach (12: 7) and others quote the Chazon Ish (116: 8), who maintains that the principle of “Achsevei” or converting non-food into food by considering and making it important when it is de facto eaten, does not apply in our case. The reason being is that the consumer does not see that chometz as food, but rather only as medicine or simply just as a binder that holds the ingredients together in a tablet.
Contemporary Poskim and Kashrus Organizations also point out, that in reality it is uncommon to use wheat to create the pill’s binder, rather corn is normally used, not only because it is more cost effective, but also for diet concerns. Corn is not chometz, only kitniyos and usually permitted in such situations.
Horav Shlomo Miller’s Shlit’a opinion is similar. The Rov added that it may be also worthwhile to consult with a knowledgeable frum pharmacist on the options available.
Rabbi A. Bartfeld as advised by Horav Shlomo Miller Shlit’a