13 January 2016
By Tom O’Sullivan
Due to increasing demand from the pharmaceutical industry for support in sensory research, leading Irish scientific consumer research firm, SRL Research, has established a dedicated centre of excellence, SRL PHARMA.
SRL Pharma has partnered with UCC’s School of Pharmacy and the Clinical Research Facility Cork (CRF-C) at Mercy University Hospital in Cork to provide best-in-breed regulatory infrastructure as well as highly skilled research team capabilities to deliver specialised and tailored sensory and consumer research for the pharma sector.
While sensory research has long been used in the food sector, to ensure a product’s acceptability to the consumer market, this type of sensory research is now being used more and more in the pharma sector.
“If patients don’t take their medications because they taste bad, or they’re difficult to swallow, that can have detrimental effects on their health. We are working with pharma companies to develop medicines that patients will be able to take and thereby increase compliance,” said Margaret Shine, CEO SRL Pharma.
“The new SRL Pharma Centre of Excellence, under the management of Dr. Liz Sheehan, will meet the needs of the pharma sector in helping to ensure drugs that are palatable, and that with increased choice of medication due to generics and off patent drugs, a particular drug has optimal chance of market success,” she added.
“Collaboration between GatewayUCC companies such as SRL Pharma and the UCC research community grows organically as is evidenced by today’s announcement, and this collaboration significantly adds to the growth of companies, like SRL, synergistically benefitting all partners including the company, the University and the wider economy in terms of job creation,” said GatewayUCC Manager, Myriam Cronin.
When bringing a medicine to market, a process that costs several million euro, scientists face many challenges, not least the requirement to make products that patients can actually consume. Children and the elderly are often the most sensitive to the ‘bad taste’ of active medicinal ingredients. As a result, these formulations are more likely to be in a liquid form, as tablet or capsules can be more difficult for these patients to swallow. In additional, there has been an increasing trend to formulate drugs in the form of orally disintegrating dosage forms, due to ease of ingestion and absorption. In these cases a ‘good taste’ is even more vital to ensure patient compliance.
Compliance rates in children are generally regarded as low and attributed to formulations that are, in many cases, bitter and unpalatable. This, along with the recent implementation of paediatric regulations and the requirement for a Paediatric Investigation Plan (PIP) from the European Medicines Agency for all new drug registrations, has challenged the pharma industry to develop acceptable “age-appropriate” formulations.
SRL Pharma is on track for further growth in 2016, as the company has already secured a number of contracts with leading pharmaceutical manufacturers and clinical research institutes. SRL Pharma clients are located mainly in Europe and the USA, and the company is providing a global solution from its centre in Cork.