The Importance of Palatability

It is widely understood by physicians, caregivers, and industry experts that medicines must be palatable to ensure dose acceptance and compliance.

Many drug substances are bitter, some extremely so, or have other “negative” or aversive sensory characteristics such as an unpleasant aromas or mouth irritation. As a consequence, the development of palatable drug products can be a daunting challenge.

The food industry strives to create products that “delight the palate” as flavor quality drives sales. Medicines, on the other hand, are developed for efficacy and safety. Palatability is necessary to ensure dosing compliance, rather than to promote consumption, and is therefore of secondary importance.

What is palatable?

Palatable drug products are those in which the aversive sensory attributes have been minimized or eliminated. In other words they are not overly bitter, produce little trigeminal irritation, are smooth not gritty and have no perceptible malodors. It is an industry myth that flavor preference – orange, grape, chocolate or mint – is the primary determinant of palatability. In actuality it’s the degree to which the negative attributes have been eliminated, that’s the true measure of palatability.

Senopsys is a unique specialty service provider to the pharma industry, conducting both taste assessment of APIs and taste masking of drug products using GCP-compliant human taste panels, following internationally recognized analysis methods originally developed by the food industry.


Senopsys Taste Assessment Tools

Senopsys developed FlavorMetrics Taste Assessment Tools to provide quantitative data to help pharmaceutical scientists address key taste issues along the clinical and commercial development pathway.

The FlavorMetrics Bitterness Profile

The taste masking challenge of an API is a function of its time-intensity profile. The stronger the intensity and
longer the duration of bitterness, or other aversive attributes, the greater the challenge.

Quantify the taste making challenge of your API early in the development process.

The FlavorMetrics Bitterness Profile provides quantitative data to inform formulation development.

  • Quantify the taste masking challenge of the API
  • Identify the API form with the lowest bitterness profile (free base vs. salt vs. drug morphology)
  • Guide dosage form selection (solution vs. suspension)

The FlavorMetrics Bitterness profile removes subjectivity from taste assessment.

Select the taste masking technology that is most appropriate for your formulation

Dose/response sensory analysis of APIs generates quantitative data to enable the selection, development and optimization of taste masking technology.

  • Assess need for an API-modification approach for taste masking
    • API Encapsulation
    • Ion Exchange Resin Complexation
    • Drug Coating
    • Hot Melt Extrusion
  • Determine maximum free (soluble) API concentration required for palatability
  • Quantify the taste of multiple drug strengths

FlavorMetrics helps inform taste masking technology decisions.

The FlavorMetrics Palatability Profile

Measure the flavor quality of prototypes and competing products.

Patient acceptability of a drug product is a function of both its initial taste characteristics and the aftertaste it leaves behind.  Both must be addressed otherwise palatability suffers. When palatability suffers so do patient adherence, health outcomes and product sales.

The FlavorMetrics Palatability Profile is an empirical model that relates the quality of the initial flavor and aftertaste.  It can be used to:

  • Guide formulation decisions during clinical and commercial development
  • Predict palatability and patient acceptance
  • Compare flavor quality of prototypes to marketed products
  • Select flavor quality targets
  • Monitor development progress
  • Support stability studies

The FlavorMetrics Palatability Profile takes the guesswork out of product launch decisions.

Explore the Art and Science of Taste Masking

We invite you to explore the art and science of taste masking by viewing a recent case study or downloading our white paper.

Dedicated to Developing Palatable Drug Products

Senopsys is the taste-masking development partner of choice for 15 of the top 25 global pharma companies as well as dozens of emerging and mid-size pharma and biotech companies.

Ask us questions, inquire about our services or schedule a “lunch and learn” seminar about the art and science of taste masking.