Kenneth Kramm, who has died aged 55, was an American pharmacist who developed a system of including flavour to unpleasant-tasting medicines to make them simpler to swallow.
The concept, which developed right into a enterprise referred to as Flavorx, was born out of desperation. Kramm’s second daughter Hadley had been born with cerebral palsy and, as an toddler, refused to take the foul-tasting anti-seizure medicines she had been prescribed, vomiting or spitting them out. 3 times a day her mother and father needed to pin her down, pressure open her mouth and attempt to get her to swallow her drugs. Lacking a dose even as soon as might deliver on violent convulsions and trigger additional mind harm.
Confronted with what he described as a “life or loss of life” state of affairs, Kramm, whose father Harold owned an impartial pharmacy in Washington, labored to develop a flavour that may very well be added to make the drugs palatable. Hadley, he recalled, “rejected not less than 10 earlier than she lastly accepted banana. When she swallowed it, that was the primary time in months that I felt I had some management again in my life.”
Whereas he developed the liquid focus, his father checked that it may very well be added to Hadley’s medicine with out compromising their efficacy. The Kramms then had the thought of doing the identical for different medicines. Quickly, individuals have been driving 20 miles or extra to get their prescriptions from their pharmacy.
The method was a matter of trial and error. Kramm discovered that some flavours labored properly with some medicines, whereas others made them worse-tasting. Prelone, a steroid, went properly with watermelon-apple flavouring, however badly with strawberry. Dimetane-DX, an antihistamine, was good with butterscotch however not with citrus flavours. With some medicines, reminiscent of penicillin, he might solely discover a couple of appropriate flavours; for others, he discovered as many as 40.
Flavorx launched in 1995, initially supplying solely different impartial pharmacies (a lot of which have been struggling to remain afloat as nationwide chains threatened to place them out of enterprise). Over time Kramm developed a 300-page recipe information for pharmacists to sweeten quite a lot of medicines with some 42 flavours starting from apple to peppermint and from “orange creamsicle” to liquorice. He refused to promote Flavorx to the chains till 1998 when certainly one of them threatened to develop its personal traces if he wouldn’t take care of them.
Contracts with chains reminiscent of Walgreens and Safeway, nevertheless, underpinned a interval of fast growth and Kramm broadened Flavorx’s vary to incorporate flavours to attraction to adults, reminiscent of mocha cappuccino, piña colada, root beer and chocolate silk pie. Shoppers requesting Flavorx for his or her pets led to a veterinary line of flavours together with liver, cheese, beef, rooster, “Barkin’ Bubblegum Roasted Lamb” – and even celery, for rabbits. As soon as he even concocted a “tutti-fruiti” recipe for a sick parakeet.
To market the merchandise, Flavorx “detailers” can be despatched out to go to paediatricians and vets, sporting white shirts with large orange Flavorx logos. Those that managed to make greater than 100 calls in per week would get an honourable point out at Monday morning conferences, which have been punctuated by cheers and chants: “Who’re we? Flavorx! What will we do? Take the yuck out of medication!”
The system unfold to pharmacies in america, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and in 2005 Kramm introduced an growth into the UK. By 2014 greater than 35,000 pharmacies all over the world have been reported to be utilizing Flavorx.
“Some would possibly assume that the style or odor of a medicine is only a novelty,” he mentioned. “Nonetheless, a medicine, irrespective of how good it’s, has no intrinsic worth if a affected person can’t ingest it. Style and odor are your two primary culprits.”
Kenneth Lee Kramm was born in Washington on June 16 1961 and grew up in Potomac, Maryland, taking a level in promoting design from the College of Maryland in 1984.
He started his profession as an artwork director for a promoting company, however didn’t take pleasure in that world and joined his father’s pharmacy agency in Washington as a enterprise supervisor.
Kramm died after contracting an an infection that resulted in sepsis.
He’s survived by his spouse, Shelley, and by their two daughters.
Kenneth Kramm, born June 16 1961, died July 12 2016