When I was about 10, I was prescribed liquid penicillin for a sore throat. As I remember it, I had to take it twice daily for about two weeks. The taste was awful. There was not much my parents could do to convince me to choke it down. Guarantees that it would make me feel better, promises of rewards, and even threats of punishment did little to sway me. I was quite a stubborn little brat about the whole thing.
Pharmaceutical research and development company AbbVie recently launched a co-creation contest to tackle that very scenario. Their challenge: “Solving the dilemma of children who need treatment but are scared to take medicine due to their negative perception of it.” I was excited to learn that one of my ideas won first prize in the competition.
I submitted two ideas. The first was a “Hidden Dose” recipe book. When you’re prescribed medications, they generally come with instructions like “take with juice,” “do not take on an empty stomach,” or “avoid dairy.” What if your child’s prescription came with a series of recipes for foods or beverages in which you could hide the medicine? While mixing medicine in apple sauce is common, advice on how to hide powder or liquid doses in more inventive ways could prove helpful.
My other idea, which won the contest, was putting doses of medication inside twisty straws.
Coat the inside of the twisty straw with specific doses of medicine that dissolve as they come in contact with liquid.
Manufacturers could start with a clear straw and add a dyed medication to it. As the child drinks their favorite beverage through the straw, the medicine slowly dissolves into it. When the straw is clear again, the caregiver knows that the child has taken all of their prescribed medicine.
Straws could come in different shapes (more complex shapes for larger doses) or be packaged and branded with various characters or themes that appeal to children. A box of mixed shapes and colors could turn a monotonous experience into a new one each time! And because the beverage can be changed constantly, there is less worry that the child will not like the taste or grow tired of the same thing every day.
For more information about the contest, or to read some of the other entries, visit the Abbvie Cocreate Healthcare Forum