A Newcastle-based pharmaceutical company has developed a breakthrough product which could help the tens of thousands of people who have difficulty swallowing their tablets.
The problem affects people of all ages and for a range of reasons. They might have dry mouths as a side-effect of taking medication. They might suffer from dementia or had a stroke, or they might be a child struggling to change from swallowing medicine to swallowing pills. Tablets taken both for medical reasons as well as supplements can also be difficult to take because they are so big.
“It’s hard to quantify the number of people who have this problem. Up until now they’ve had to suffer in silence,” said Peter Batty, the general manager of Fagron UK which is about to launch Med-Easy™ through pharmacies across the UK.
Med-Easy™ is a liquid with a slight cherry taste which is poured onto a tablet on a spoon and swallowed just like medicine.
“Like some of the best ideas, it’s an easy-to-use solution to a problem that’s affecting very many lives and people’s health. The liquid wraps around the tablet and, in effect, smooths the edges,” said Mr Batty.
Med-Easy™ has already helped nine-year-old Darcie Defty from South Shields who suffers from chronic car sickness. Unless she takes a travel sickness pill before a journey she soon feels ill.
But, said her mum Hayley, Darcie found it really difficult to swallow tablets. “We used to hide a tablet in a soft sweet and try to trick her into taking it,” she said.
“I think it was the idea of swallowing something – a foreign body going down her throat. She wouldn’t swallow it or she’d keep it in her mouth, then she wouldn’t like the taste and spit it out. So it was defeating the point. As soon as I heard about Med-Easy™ I thought it would work – and it has.”
Like the Deftys many people who have the problem try to take a tablet with food – such as yogurt. However, if they have been prescribed certain types of anti-biotic the calcium in yogurt reduces the effectiveness of the medication.
“There are other well-documented examples of food reducing the impact of certain treatments – for instance grapefruit and grapefruit juice,” said Mr Batty. “That’s why our scientists have created a product based on starch, which means that it is virtually chemically inert and therefore compatible with almost all medicines. It is also free from sugar and gluten.”
People who have difficulty swallowing tablets might also crush their pills, even though that can seriously affect their impact and in some cases pose a serious risk to health. They might instead take their medication in a solution or liquid form where there is a possibility they will not fully consume the prescribed dose.
Med-Easy™ has already proved a success in Europe, prompting Fagron’s UK business to introduce it here.