Medicines suitable for adults with swallowing difficulties

Karoline Brennan, Senior Medicines Information Pharmacist, North West Medicines Information CentrePublished

A number of licensed and unlicensed products in different therapeutic classes are available that are suitable for use in adults with swallowing difficulties.

Included products

Example products suitable for use in swallowing difficulties across therapeutic drug classes are included where:

  • there is particular relevance to primary care
  • there has been a high spend on special-order medicines

Choice of medicine

The choice of medicine should be made on an individual basis taking into account the patient’s clinical need, method of feeding, the practicalities of administration, product quality and cost. Refer to our article for further background.

Choosing formulations of medicines for adults with swallowing difficulties

Some adults cannot safely swallow tablets or capsules. A process for choosing suitable formulations is described, following a stepwise approach.

Suggested alternative formulations

Where alternative agents are suggested, therapeutic equivalence is not implied. Patients will require monitoring and possibly dose titration when switching between different agents. In most cases, a special-order medicine will not be required.

Prescribing an unlicensed product or a product for unlicensed use

The prescriber should be aware of the licensed status, route and method of administration of medicines they prescribe.

Prescribers assume greater liability for use of unlicensed medicines and for use of licensed medicines in an unlicensed manner than for licensed medicines used as licensed.