The Challenges of Formulating Medicines for Children

Developing medications for adults is a difficult and complex undertaking on its own. But developing medications for children increases the difficulty and complexity many times over.

Scientists face additional challenges when developing pharmaceuticals for younger people: administrable dosage forms are limited, taste sensitivities are higher, and weight and age variances create dosage challenges.

At Adare Pharma Solutions, our experienced teams are experts at overcoming challenges that affect all patients, even the smallest. That’s why our clients trust our contract formulation development, and it’s why our reputation has grown so solidly around the world.

Contact us today to tell us about your project, and we’ll let you know how we can help.

Now, here are just a few of the many issues to be considered when developing medications for children.

Route of Administration

Caregivers understand that many children can’t tolerate swallowing pills or tablets. In fact, most younger children are physically incapable of swallowing single-unit medication.

Therefore, most children’s medication requires a different administration method. When it comes to deciding which form of administration to use, researchers focus on the following criteria:

  • the condition being treated
  • the duration of the treatment
  • dosing frequency
  • ease of measuring/using administration devices
  • the risks of dosing errors
  • the convenience of the medication (for both the administrator and the patient)

While solid-dosage forms such as pills are difficult for children, there are many alternatives that work well: orally disintegrating powders, dry syrups, and liquids are all more accepted by children than other mediums.

Many of Adare’s most innovative technologies can create such formulations for easier compliance.

On the other hand, medications that are inhaled, applied rectally, or absorbed through the skin are all much less likely to be accepted by a child. Patient discomfort during administration can create difficulties in ensuring the appropriate dosage will be taken.


One of the most essential factors that scientists consider when formulating treatments for children is the taste of the medication. The stress of being required to take something is inherently taxing to a child – if the medication is bitter, the stress is amplified. Taste, smell, and mouth-feel can make or break a child’s acceptance of a medication. If these elements are poor, it can result in the child resisting treatment.

A solution is taste-masking the drug to improve administration tolerance in children.

But to maximize medication acceptance by the child, researchers must consider how buffering agents that mask the unpleasant taste of the medicine interact with the physical and chemical components of the active ingredient itself.

Those researchers often turn to experts in taste-masking like Adare Pharma Solutions. We partner with developers to ensure that the disagreeable taste of a medication is masked without affecting the efficacy of the dosage.

Variations in Patient Age and Size

When developing medicine for adult patients, one size often fits all. But the broad category of “children” includes many age ranges and physical sizes—newborns, toddlers, children, and adolescents—and each may require different dosages and methods of administration.

It’s also a mistake to view children as only smaller versions of adults. Children’s physical and physiological functioning varies with their development, and it is imperative that drug developers recognize and accommodate such differences.

To further complicate the issue, the potency of drugs may require only milligrams or micrograms of medication to be effective. Drug manufacturers are tasked with finding a way to achieve accuracy in dosing for children of different sizes and ages, ensuring that the children are getting the correct dosage in the right time-frame.

Solutions to these challenges continue to evolve with advancing technologies. One promising technology is microencapsulation, such as that offered by Adare, which can turn medications into powders to allow for a wider set of application options, many of which children might not even notice.

Contact Us for Your Child-Medicine Development Needs

At Adare Pharma Solutions, our mission is to use our expertise and experience to help improve drug compliance among patients of all sizes.

To find out more about how Adare’s technology can be used to make “medicine time” easier on the smallest patients (and their caregivers!), contact us today!