What Flavor is Most Effective in Masking a Bitter Taste?
Many Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) are bitter, some extremely so. Often a formulator’s first reaction to taste masking is to add a “flavor” to the formulation to mask the bitterness. This approach to taste making is not usually successful because of differences in the physiology of taste and smell.
Myth Busted: Taste and Smell are NOT the Same
One of the great myths of taste masking is that taste and smell are the same. We are routinely asked: “Which flavor – orange, grape, chocolate, or mint – is most effective in masking a bitter taste?”
The answer is none.
The difficulty in formulating a palatable drug product typically stems from the taste of the API, which is often strongly bitter or excessively sour or salty.
As we discussed in our first post, “taste” refers to those sensations perceived through the stimulation of the receptor cells located in the taste buds on the epithelium of the tongue and oral cavity. There are five tastes perceived in the oral cavity – sweet, sour salty, bitter and umami. These are known as the basic tastes.
“Flavors” are aroma chemicals that are perceived via the sense of smell (olfaction) through stimulation of receptor cells in the olfactory epithelium located in the upper reaches of the nasal cavity. It’s been calculated that humans are able differentiate a trillion individual smells.
Thus taste and smell represent completely different modalities, just like the sense of sight is different than touch. And they have no impact on one another. In this way, commercial flavoring aromatics – such as orange, grape, chocolate, or mint (smell/ olfaction) – cannot mask bitterness (taste).
Up Next: The Nomenclature of Flavors
In future posts I’ll be discussing what every pharmaceutical formulation scientist needs to know about flavors – their nomenclature
Taste Masking Challenge? Senopsys Can Help!
Are you faced with the need to develop a palatable drug product to support clinical trials or commercial development? Our scientists are expert in both taste assessment and taste masking.
We use our experienced GCP-compliant taste panels and analytic tools to quantify the taste masking challenge and guide formulation development. And we apply a structured, sensory-directed development approach pioneered in the food industry to create palatable, taste-masked drug formulations for liquids, powders and solids.