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Masked, Sealed and Delivered: Taste-masking Delivery Methods

Amanda Stevenson-Grund - Friday, December 18, 2015

…good taste is indispensable to patient compliance. Moreover, high palatability gives a competitive advantage, especially in the case of over-the-counter products.
Gala and Chauhan. American Pharmaceutical Review. 2014.

Students are taught to be wary of absolute words, such as “only” in exam questions. In the medical field, drug developers should also be wary of “only.” Thinking there is only one way of doing things can have bad consequences. When it comes to taste masking, for example, there are many methods of delivering medication because no way works best for all patients. Current delivery methods of taste-masked medications include those that hold powders, such as sprinkle capsules, sachets and stick packs, and liquid formulations.

Many patients who need taste-masked medication, such as pediatric and geriatric patients, also need medication that’s easy to swallow. Conventional tablets and capsules can be problematic. Sprinkle capsules are designed to be opened and their contents sprinkled onto food, other solids or liquids, as needed. The capsule, itself, must be hard enough and secure enough that it will not accidentally break or open on its own. However, it must be easy to open for patients and caregivers.

Sachets and stick packs are two other methods of delivering taste-masked drugs. Both sachets and stick packs are single-unit containers of medication. The medication inside is in the form of granules or powder, which can be mixed with solids or liquids as needed. A benefit of these forms of medication is the near certainty of receiving the correct dose. There’s no need to measure liquid or count tablets or capsules. Sachets and stick packs are more common in Europe and Japan than the United States, but their use here will likely increase, according to a 2014 Unither Pharmaceuticals article.

Liquid formulations are a common format for taste-masked drug delivery. Liquid is easy for patients to swallow and for pharmaceutical companies to sweeten. Liquid is a common format for drug developers that add sweeteners and other additives.

Both delivery methods that hold powders and liquid formulations are methods of delivering taste-masked oral drugs. Orbis BiosciencesTM develops format-flexible, taste-masked drugs through the OptimµmTM platform. The palatable powder is appropriate for many drug delivery methods, including liquid formulations. Orbis knows that patients need options. Limiting patients to one format is to limit the efficacy of the medication. As long as Orbis and other pharmaceutical companies keep this in mind, absolutist thinking won’t limit patients.

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