A spoonful of chocolate helps the medicine go down

In order to receive the the benefits of any medicine, a patient must be willing to take it in the correct amount, at the appropriate time.

Getting a child to take the right amount of medicine is often difficult (as any parent can attest!) as most medicines are not formulated with children in mind.

Even those that are formulated especially for children often don’t taste very nice. As a result, children will often refuse to take the medicine so it can become a struggle for their parents and caregivers to get them to take it.

Each year, millions of infants and children around the world require sedation for medical and dental procedures. Midazolam is commonly used for pre-operative sedation and has a particularly bitter taste. Unfortunately there are no paediatric specific formulations available in Australia.

To address this, Perth Children’s Hospital Foundation Chair of Paediatric Anaesthesia, Professor Britta Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg and Professor Lee-Yong Lim from the Centre of Optimisation of Medicine at the University of Western Australia, have led a team of researchers to develop and trial a chocolate-based pharmaceutical formula that masks the taste of bitter drugs such as midazolam.

Clinical trial data at Princess Margaret Hospital has shown the midazolam chewable tablet is very effective at masking the bitter taste, and the familiarity of chocolate makes it much more acceptable to children.

In addition, the new midazolam chocolates enable the doctors and nurses administering the tablet greater control and accuracy over the dosage as the children will chew the whole tablet. Especially when compared with the liquid formulations. This means that children, even those who are very young or have low coping abilities, can receive the ideal dose with minimal distress.

The research team is now exploring ways to make the new chocolate drug formulation available to all children, which means they are changing the way children are cared for around the world! Amazing stuff.

Pictured above: The research team (left to right) Professor Britta Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg, Professor Lee-Yong Lim, Dr. Edith Tang, Lilana Slevin, Dr. Laurence Cheung and Dr. Sam Salman.

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