Getting kids to take medicine has never been easy, but a recent study in the journal Pediatrics has shown that adding flavor may make it easier. In the study, they looked at 25 children between the ages of 6 to 17 who were receiving long-term therapies. The study looked at how easily the kids could swallow the pill plain versus those that were sprayed by a strawberry-flavored agent. The results: kids had an easier time consuming the flavored pills.
But what are the ramifications of flavoring medicine? “There could be confusion about the difference between pills and candy,” explains Cindy Miller, RPh, Manager of Methodist Retail Pharmacy at Indiana University Health.
Additionally, some insurance companies won’t pay for adding flavoring to drugs, so if you have a compounded liquid with a flavoring agent, it might need to be made without flavor to be covered by the insurance. Call your carrier to inquire.
Flavoring may change the concentration (strength) of some medications. Ask your pharmacist to prevent any complications.
So how do you get kids to take their medicine? “Many children can get a liquid form of same medication which strikes a balance because it is usually more palatable when flavored,” says Miller.
Will pharmacies start adding flavoring to meds to make them taste better for kids? “Many pharmacies actually now offer to add flavoring agents to medications,” says Miller. “Giving the parent the choice is always best not only for flavor choice, but allergy issues.”
What can parents do if they have to give their child medicine and it only comes in a pill form? “Parents can crush items and put them in pudding or apple sauce,” says Miller.
-- By Judy Koutsky