Liquid Medications: Tips and Tricks to Enhance Palatability

It is no secret that liquid medication is no fruit punch. Most people dislike medicine and they can’t be blamed: taking medicines are hardly ever an enjoyable activity. Compounding, however, gives you the chance to customize medication. And while some pharmaceutical manufacturers have their hands tied due to specificity of drug requirements, many spend their time and efforts developing medication that won’t have children crying for their mothers. If the patient is unable to stomach a bitter taste, with the right combination, you can alter the flavoring without reducing the effectiveness of the medication.

Compounding Science as explained by Pharmacist Hootan Melamed

Before embarking on the development process, certain facts have to be determined: Is the patient you are treating human or an animal? You must also establish what medical condition you are treating, as this determines what flavors and sweeteners you can use. Solubility of the ingredients is important for animals to ensure a longer shelf life. Another factor you must be aware of is the preferences of the patient and the dominant taste of the active ingredient.

Flavoring agents

Flavoring agents are very strong and must be used with restraint. Compounding is a very specific science as renowned pharmacist Hootan Melamed will tell you. Note that the flavors themselves do not contain any sweeteners. The sweet taste is derived from the sweetening agents. Solutions that contain water can be flavored using water soluble artificial flavoring. A variety of flavors can be combined to create more exotic concoctions. Pure vanilla extract and chocolate flavoring are often added, because of their ability to hide the bitter aftertaste of medication. Powdered flavors are also used, but they require higher amounts.

Aqueous preparations may be reactive with the active ingredients present in the medication, thus artificial flavors are the favored option. Oil-based medicines and suspensions can be flavored using oil flavors and miscible flavors. Again, these flavors have a bitter taste if they are not mixed with sweeteners. The most common sweeteners used by compounding pharmacists are Steviol glycosides. When mixed with the flavoring, the concentration of steviol glycosides declines. The most efficient combination is found to be 0.5% steviol glycosides and acesulfame potassium.

Some patients would also have dietary restrictions that may require them to consume only sugar-free items. In this case, a sugar-free base must be used. While using this base, wetting agents such as glycerine have to be avoided as it may cause clumping of the mixture. Instead, it must be wetted with the base of the mixture. Magnasweet can also be used. It is a sweet enhancer extracted from licorice with the licorice flavor removed. Another agent that can be used is BitterStop, which is used to reduce the bitter flavor of medicines. It, however, does not have a sweet taste on its own and must be used with other sweeteners. You must also keep in mind certain other conditions while preparing a formula. Chocolate flavoring cannot be used with dogs because of toxicities. Salt also has the ability to reduce the bitter flavor of medicines. Dogs and cats enjoy the taste of sodium chloride and thus it should be considered.

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