Many dosage forms and pharmaceutical technologies trace their origins to the food industry, where taste is paramount. In this blog our formulation and sensory scientists share practical concepts and techniques for developing palatable drug products.
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It is widely recognized that young children cannot swallow traditional tablets, but difficulty in swallowing tablets (dysphagia) is not limited to children. An estimated 40% of adults report difficulty in swallowing tablets, which is increasingly common among older patients. How can the formulation scientist address these important patient needs, and how can “swallowability” even be quantitatively measured?
Try this experiment next time you are in a coffee shop: Open a packet of artificial sweetener (pink, yellow, or blue) and pour it directly on your tongue. Yuck! That tasted nothing like a spoonful of sugar – so what happened? Though artificial sweeteners are widely used in pharmaceuticals, formulating with them is far from straightforward.
If you’re a Disney fan of a certain age, you probably can sing the lyrics to Mary Poppins Spoonful of Sugar Makes the Medicine Go Down. Many APIs are known to be bitter, some extremely so. The addition of flavor – orange, grape, berry, chocolate – cannot reduce bitterness as taste and smell have different perception pathways. Rather bitterness is reduced by blending with the complementary basic tastes – sweet, sour and salty – through the mechanism of taste/taste interaction. When properly blended, the result is a neutral tasting (“white”) base in which the basic tastes are not separately perceived.