When Flavoured Meds for Kids Aren’t a Bad Idea

It typically sounds like a dangerous move when pharmaceutical companies decide to make medicine in yummy flavours for kids. After all, yummy flavours could entice kids and result in overdoses. Here we see an exception, a case where the candy-coating really does make sense. See the Associate Press story here:

Cherry-flavoured malaria drug launched for kids

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis is launching a new cherry-flavoured malaria drug that it says children will be less likely to spit out.

The child-friendly version of its malaria pill dissolves in water, as well as breast milk, and tastes like fruit juice.

Hans Rietveld, director of marketing for Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis’ malaria initiative, said that until now, mothers were forced to crush the anti-malarial pill and mix it with sugar in order to trick children into swallowing it.

Even under a cloak of sugar, the pill still tastes bitter, causing many children, especially infants, to spit it out.

Sometimes it’s useful to see something done for very good (e.g., life-saving) reason, to serve as a source of comparison when companies do something superficially similar but less-well justified.

4 comments so far

  1. Lorrie B on

    I think the good news here is that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is helping subsidize the cost of this drug in several African countries. It being a treatment for malaria does not make it any less dangerous in terms of enticing kids and resulting in overdoses. As long as it tastes better than medicine, the potential for it to be consumed inappropriately exists, so why would this be any different? And as far as it being “something done for very good”, what about Depakote Sprinkles (for seizure disorders) or Singulair chewable tablets for children with asthma? Why is this a case where the candy-coating makes sense? Am I missing something, Chris? If so, please accept my apologies in advance, as I am new to your column but very much enjoying your viewpoints. Lorrie BeauchampIndependent Medical Writer

  2. Chris MacDonald on

    Lorrie:Fair question. I’m certainly not saying this is the <>only<> good case I can think of.But compare this case to yummy-flavoured cough & cold meds, most of which are not backed up by good clinical evidence. This case, in contrast, involves a life-saving medicine for a communicable disease.Chris.

  3. hartwomen on

    Hey Chris – I am with Lorrie, above. As a mom, I kinda appreciate “yummy-flavored cough and cold meds” for what seems to be the same reason you highlight above. Kids are likely to spit out yucky-flavored cough and cold meds (and I do not need clinical evidence to prove it when I have my own experience!).– Laura

  4. Chris MacDonald on

    Laura:Actually, I kind of think you <>do<> need some clinical evidence. There have been a number of high-level reports, recently, criticizing over-the-counter cough & cold meds, especially for very young kids. One report (in a reputable journal) suggested that a spoonful of honey was just as effective at diminishing a cough, and with roughly zero percent chance of hurting the kid. Kids have died of cough-syrup overdose.Chris.

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