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Br Dent J. 2012 Sep;213(5):207-8. doi: 10.1038/sj.bdj.2012.777.

Sugar-free medicines are counterproductive.

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Department of Oncology, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS trust, Hucknall road, Nottingham, UK.


Sugar in food and drinks is responsible for the poor dental health of many children and adults. On the other hand, there is no evidence that the small amount of sugar in medicines has been responsible for any dental problems. A recent British Heart Foundation survey found that nearly one in three UK children are eating sweets, chocolate and crisps three or more times a day. Hence it is futile administering sugar-free medicine to a child consuming lot of sweets. Moreover, sugar in medicines makes them palatable and bitter medicines inevitably affect compliance with the prescribed treatment. Poor compliance leads to inadequate treatment of illness and consequently increases the risk of complications from illness. Hence sugar-free medicines promoted as a public health policy could have actually caused more harm than any meaningful net benefit. There is an urgent need for a healthy debate and a fresh look at the policy of promoting sugar-free medicines.

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