Taste Masking for Bitter Drugs: A Practical Approach

Taste Masking for Bitter Drugs

Nobody likes to take a bitter pill. Taste plays a very important role in a patient’s compliance to take a medication, especially if it involves children and the elderly.Pharma companies are therefore on the lookout for patient-friendly products, which can be manufactured as a less bitter alternative to normal allopathic medication.Aversion to bitterness evolved in humans to avoid unfavourable foods that might be harmful to our bodies. However, research has shown that several naturally occurring compounds (likeflavonoids and isoflavones), which taste bitter or leave an unpleasant aftertaste are medically beneficial. The unpleasant taste of these compounds can be attributed to their specific molecular structure.Given this challenging scenario, pharma companies have come up with an innovative idea. From a manufacturer’s perspective, they believe Taste Masking for Bitter Drugs might be a game-changer in the pharmaceutical industry.Also, Read : The Need for Pharmaceutical Taste-Masking and Why it Matters

Methods of Taste Masking

The main challenge behind developing a method for taste masking a medicinal compound lies within the manufacturing process itself. The technique needs to be inherently compatible with the formulation technology for the medication.Some of the commonly used taste-masking techniques are as below:

Organoleptic Methods

This involves adding either sweetening or flavouring agents (like sucralose and mint) or bitterness blocking agents that combine with the G-protein receptors in the tongue to block the bitterness inducing components of the target drug, thereby preventing our taste buds from perceiving the bitterness (eg. Lipoproteins and phospholipids).

Polymer Coating

A remarkably simple method that involves the coating of the target drug with one or several layers of polymers or sweeteners that either does not dissolve in the saliva (hydrophobic) or dissolve to bind with and block the G-protein receptors just the same way as organoleptic compounds mentioned above (hydrophilic).

Hot-Melt Extrusion

A promising technology to produce new chemical entities. It involves mixing the bitter target drug with dry masking ingredients that are then melted and extruded. The extruded compound is a taste-masked product that can then be broken down into particles of smaller target drug composition as per dosage requirements.


This process involves the encapsulation of the target drug by tiny particles of inert substrate to prevent its contact with the taste buds entirely. The coating is usually that of a polymeric substrate with the coating process being carried out within a solvent medium.


This method primarily involves the use of Cyclodextrins either as the contact inhibitor for the drug or by the interaction of the hydrophilic exterior of the cyclodextrin with the taste buds, preventing any interaction between the bitter drug and the taste receptors of the tongue.

Spray Drying

An alternate approach but a lesser effective one compared with the other methods on this list. It involves creating a physical barrier coating to the drug using a polymer within a solvent, which is then spray-dried to give the final product. The major drawback of this method is that the polymer coat thickness can hinder the effectiveness of the drug if not carefully regulated.

About ZIM Laboratories

ZIM Labs is an innovative drug delivery solution provider focusing on improving patient convenience and adherence to drug intake. We offer a range of technology-based drug delivery solutions and non-infringing proprietary manufacturing processes for the production and supply of innovative and differentiated generic pharmaceutical products to our customers globally. At ZIM Labs we provide our customers a comprehensive range of value-added solid dosage differentiated generic products in semi-finished and finished categories/formulations. These include granules, pellets (sustained, modified, extended-release), taste-masked powders, suspensions, tablets, capsules, and recently developed Oral Thin Films (OTF).


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