A place where kids will take their medicines

Articles
January 15, 2009

A place where kids will take their medicines

Parents of sick children—who could be treated routinely and recover if they’d only take their medicine—have long hid crushed pills in applesauce, and cough medicine in orange juice. But the medicines still taste horrible to kids, who won’t take them and won’t be easily coaxed or forced into doing so. What can bleary-eyed moms or dads to do when children flail to avoid taking antibiotic solutions they hate—except wish that someone made this essential caring task a lot easier? How hard could it be, after all, to mask a medication flavor and make it more palatable? The techniques have been around for years, and lucky families who lived in towns where (usually) an independent retail pharmacist offered limited pediatric compounding had a local solution, and could avoid much stress. They’d pay extra for the service, but it would be money well spent. Now a family practice called KidsRx, in Manhattan’s West Village and (coming to) Brooklyn’s Park Slope, has turned pharmacy into child’s play. Founder-pharmacist William Brownstein is serious about getting kids to take the medicines they need, but the store is anything but somber: Thomas the Tank & Friends run overhead, bright displays, and a comfy waiting area take the edge off. And 800 flavors—including peanut butter, cherry, banana, vanilla and (for adults) vodka—make decent-tasting medicines possible in the forms of puddings, lollipops, transdermal gels and more.

Parents of sick children—who could be treated routinely and recover if they’d only take their medicine—have long hid crushed pills in applesauce, and cough medicine in orange juice. But the medicines still taste horrible to kids, who won’t take them and won’t be easily coaxed or forced into doing so.

What can bleary-eyed moms or dads to do when children flail to avoid taking antibiotic solutions they hate—except wish that someone made this essential caring task a lot easier? How hard could it be, after all, to mask a medication flavor and make it more palatable?

The techniques have been around for years, and lucky families who lived in towns where (usually) an independent retail pharmacist offered limited pediatric compounding had a local solution, and could avoid much stress.  They’d pay extra for the service, but it would be money well spent.

Now a family practice called KidsRx, in Manhattan’s West Village and (coming to) Brooklyn’s Park Slope, has turned pharmacy into child’s play. Founder-pharmacist William Brownstein is serious about getting kids to take the medicines they need, but the store is anything but somber: Thomas the Tank & Friends run overhead, bright displays, and a comfy waiting area take the edge off.  And 800 flavors—including peanut butter, cherry, banana, vanilla and (for adults) vodka—make decent-tasting medicines possible in the forms of puddings, lollipops, transdermal gels and more.

A single-dose medication has the same amount of sugar as one-and-a-half table packets, although sugar-free varieties are available too. He says KidsRx prices are no higher than at a chain store, though there is an additional $5 flavoring fee.

In an interview with PSFK TV (www.psfk.com/2008/09/psfk-tv-william-brownstein-of-kids-rx.html), Brownstein said he is criticized because “‘How can a child discriminate between candy and medicine?’ That’s not my job. My job is to make the experience of taking medication as pleasant as possible.”

SupermarketGuru.com agrees that medicine children spit up or refuse to take helps no one. Job one is getting the youngsters well, and parents have the ultimate responsibility to administer regimens safely at home.  Keeping the kids safe after that, by teaching that medicine is neither candy nor to be taken without permission, is part of the same message parents must deliver.