December 23, 2005

Quick-dissolve pills helpful for some patients

By Megan Rauscher

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Orally disintegrating tablets,
which dissolve on contact with saliva without the need for
water, may help people with swallowing difficulties take their
pills, researchers report.

The team studied 36 adults with dysphagia, or problems with
swallowing, while they downed conventional tablets or "RapiTab"
quick-dissolving tablets, in a crossover fashion.

While the subjects swallowed the pills, they underwent
endoscopy looking at their throat action, electrical recording
of muscle activity, and respiratory monitoring, according to
the report in the Archives of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck

"Our study identified a difference in the physiologic
aspects of swallowing associated with taking a conventional
pill versus a rapidly dissolving tablet form," said study
leader Dr. Giselle Carnaby-Mann, a research scientist in the
department of psychiatry at the University of Florida in

The patients took longer to swallow the regular tablet
form, required more muscular effort, a longer breath hold, and
multiple attempts to clear the regular tablet compared to the
rapidly dissolving form.

Patients with dysphagia clearly preferred the orally
disintegrating tablets to the conventional tablets,
Carnaby-Mann and her colleagues report.

It's also worth noting, she said, that more than "60
percent of our sample demonstrated obvious difficulty
swallowing the conventional pill, and the swallowing behaviors
were significantly different." This suggests that pill
swallowing "should be included as an assessment task in
standard evaluations of swallowing ability," the researcher

"It may be," she explained, "that swallowing pills is very
different from swallowing more food-like substances ... but at
this point this idea is still speculation."

The RapiTab is manufactured by Schwarz Pharma Inc., of
Milwaukee, who funded the current study.

SOURCE: Archives of Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery,
November 2005.