Taste Masking Approaches

A.S. Mundada, N.V. Bhola, D.R. Meshram, J.G. Avari

Abstract: Taste masking of bitter drugs has been a challenge to scientists. Several oral pharmaceuticals and bulking agents have unpleasant bitter taste. In order to ensure patient compliance, bitterness masking becomes essential. The desire of improving the palatability in these products has prompted the development of numerous formulations with improved performance and acceptability. Several approaches like adding flavors and sweeteners, use of lipoproteins for inhibiting bitterness, numbing of taste buds, coating of drug with inert agents, microencapsulation, multiple emulsion, viscosity modifiers, vesicles and liposomes, prodrug formation, salt formation, formation of inclusion and molecular complexes, solid dispersion system and application of ion exchange resins have been tried by the formulators to mask the unpleasant taste of the bitter drugs. In the present review an attempt has been made to describe various approaches used in pharmaceutical industries for masking bitter taste of the drugs.

Taste is a sensation which is realized when a substance such as food, beverages or drug is place in the oral cavity. This sensation is the result of signal transduction from the receptor organs for taste, commonly known as taste buds. These taste buds contain very sensitive nerve ending which produce and transmit electrical impulses via the seventh, ninth, tenth cranial nerves to those areas of brain which are devoted to perception of taste. Taste constitutes four primary effects viz., sweet, sour, bitter and salty and are perceived within 50 milliseconds. As the stimulus, taste is transmitted through water, water solubility is prerequisite for all tastes. Unfortunately many drugs have unpleasant taste primarily bitterness. Bad testing medication can decrease compliance and diminish quality of life for individuals who are already seriously ill. Thus taste masking of oral pharmaceuticals has becomes potential tool to improve patient compliance and commercial success of product.

Two approaches are commonly utilized to overcome bad taste of drugs. First is reduction of drug solubility in saliva and other is to alter ability of the drug to interact with taste receptor. An ideal taste masking process and formulation should have the following properties.

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