Sensory assessment of bitter tablets

Some new research is now available on what children and adults thought about the sensory properties of coated tablets.

This work was undertaken at ThinkTank Science museum in Birmingham and involved more than 100 children and more than 50 adults.

The participants were asked to tell the researchers what they thought of the mouthfeel and taste of small (7.5mm) coated tablets.

The following factors: low bitterness, high smoothness, high slipperiness and pleasant aftertaste had a positive impact on overall palatability in both populations.

If you want to read the full article please use this link:

Big Health Quiz

I gave a plenary lecture last week at the big health quiz held at the University of Birmingham. This was a great event that invited local school children in year 8 to come to the University (Great Hall which is a spectacular venue – see the photo!) to take part in a quiz. The Quiz was designed to cover all aspects of healthcare with questions on scientific, clinical and educational aspects. The atmosphere was lively and there was a lot of energy in the room. This was great but did make giving a plenary challenging! I spoke about how the body is a human doughnut and we have a time window when we have to make sure that the drug is all released from the medicine to ensure it works.

These events are really important to showcase careers as well as the University to the widest range of potential students.

I hope the attendees enjoyed this as much as me!




Careers events at schools

This week I am attending two different schools to talk about a career in Pharmacy or Pharmaceutical Sciences. This makes me think about what information is important to think about when you are in year 8, 9, 10, 11 , 12 or 13.

Many young people don’t really know what career they want and often don’t know what careers are available to them. Certainly when I was young I knew (or thought I knew) what a teacher did, what a GP did and perhaps what my parents did as jobs. I also had an idea of the roles you saw in everyday life including shop worker, postman, milkman, hairdresser etc.

However, even today I don’t really know what many of my friends do as jobs! Some are project managers, sales representatives; IT specialists and many others. When I ask about their jobs they will say – mostly office work and involves a lot of computer work. This doesn’t really tell me much about what they actually do whilst at work. So I have decided to talk about a couple of typical days at work to give a flavour of what I do, the parts I enjoy and some of the less enjoyable parts to give a rounded view. I am also going to encourage the pupils to ask similar questions to others so that they can build up a picture of what they want from their job and careers beyond the academic skills.

I am lucky in that I have worked in academia, the NHS and pharmaceutical industry so I can compare my own roles as examples of the parts I liked! However, this does come with the caveat that just because I like it – you may not! I liken this to going out for food and you all order something different from the menu – you don’t all have to like the same things.

Hopefully I can inspire at least some of the pupils to consider pharmacy or pharmaceutical science in their own future career plans!

A week of public engagement

This week I have attended two events on public engagement

1 A University of Birmingham patient involvement celebration of research and partnership

2. Thinktank Lates – an evening at Birmingham Science museum with a showcase of research

Both were enjoyable and it is great that patients and the public are keen to talk about medicines and how to improve these. There are many individuals who struggle with everyday tasks associated with taking medicines these range from dexterity issues to dysphagia and it is important that these are all considered in the design of appropriate and acceptable medicines.

Some of our activities included sharing models and images of tablets and capsules that are available in a range of sizes and surface textures to see how these may affect the perception of handling or swallowing medicines. We were also exploring what devices are considered acceptable for the measurement of sprinkle formulations. I am always enthused by the enthusiasm of others – this week it has been the enthusiasm of those involved in research as well as the members of the public and patients that we met.

10 years of young persons involvement!

This is a delayed post due to too much exciting activity! Early in September I was invited to attend an event to celebrate 10 years of the West Midlands Clinical Research Network Young persons Steering Group.

This event celebrated how a group (ever changing) of young people have support research by advising on the design and delivery of clinical studies over the past 10 years. There were talks by researchers and the young people and it was fantastic to see how much these young people had achieved – not only for clinical research in the West Midlands but also as individuals.

Here is to the next 10 years!EEGNhGkWwAAfPjP

Does an adapted oral syringe help in administration of sprinkles?

This week we conducted a study based at ThinkTank Science museum in Birmingham to look at whether multiparticules (very tiny sprinkle formulations) can be administered using an oral syringe.

The study had two parts:

  1. Can parents use the syringe and get an accurate dose?
  2. What do children think of the administration of these sprinkles directly into their mouths?

We have not done our analysis yet but had really good fun conducting the study


Here are some photosDSC05363DSC05282DSC05236

Latest study looking at childrens’ ability to swallow tablets

We have just completed a study to investigate whether children are able to swallow tablets and whether coatings make any difference to the mouthfeel.

The results are not yet ready for dissemination but there were a few things I learnt from delivery of this study:

  1. Research students do a fantastic job!
  2. Twitter is a useful tool to attract participants
  3. Children and parents love a mini lab-coat
  4. Certificates are appreciated
  5. Puppets can be easier to respond to compared to humans
  6. Thinktank Science museum are great hosts for a study

I am excited about the results and will share these once available. In the mean time I just wanted to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to all who participated.

Coatings that improve the swallowability of tablets…

I have mainly been working on children’s medicines but sometimes I look at other aspects. Issues in swallowing are not limited to children and up to 40% of adults have difficulty in swallowing their tablets. We did some research to find out whether coatings that are designed to be slippery can help in swallowing tablets and the results are now available here.

In summary – we found that YES! the coating applied can make a tablet easier to swallow where you need less water and it takes less time to swallow. Hopefully the same technologies can be applied for tablets for all populations to make medicines easier to take.