This past Sunday, we celebrated Mother’s Day to honor moms for their love, devotion, and unwavering care and support they provide to their children. Included in that care is the often-tough task of convincing sick children to take medicine, a job made much easier because pharmacies in California can easily flavor those medications to improve the taste.

Anyone who has had sick children knows how difficult it is to get a child to take the critical medicine they so desperately need.

But try telling that to the California State Board of Pharmacy, which is considering a new measure that would create so much red tape for pharmacies that it will prevent nearly all of them from flavoring medications for children. If the Board of Pharmacy has its way, only “compounding” pharmacies will be able to comply with the new regulatory requirements.

To give you a sense of how onerous this decision will be for families, consider that there are only three compounding pharmacies in the Sacramento area.  There is only one within 50 miles of Redding. Thousands of pharmacies currently offer flavoring to families in California. That will dwindle to a handful should the new policy go into effect.

The outrage here is that there is absolutely no public health reason for the Board to consider this change. Instead, the Board of Pharmacy will adopt a recommendation from a DC-based independent panel advising flavoring as a compounding standard. Even though, for over 25 years, flavored medicines have been successfully dispensed to millions of Californian children and children across the country without any adverse health problems. 

In California, flavored medicines are extremely commonplace:

  • More than 3,000 California pharmacies offer flavoring to their customers, primarily for commercially available liquid medications;
  • 6 million children under the age of 11 live in California – these children typically take liquid medications when they are sick; 
  • At least 300,000-500,000 medications are flavored every year in California’s pharmacies, depending on the severity of cold/flu season; 
  • Commonly flavored medications in California’s pharmacies include:
    • Amoxicillin
    • Augmentin
    • Cleocin
    • Tamiflu
    • Zithromax 
  • The most popular medication flavors selected by children in California are:
    • Bubblegum 
    • Grape
    • Mango
    • Strawberry 
    • Watermelon 

The idea of a day to honor mothers in the United States was first suggested in the 19th century by Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, who after her mother died in 1905, organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration to honor her mother and all mothers for their sacrifices and love.

The idea quickly gained popularity, and soon after, Mother’s Day was celebrated in several states. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day, a national holiday to honor mothers. It became an official holiday in the United States. It gradually spread to other countries around the world as a way to express gratitude and appreciation for all the sacrifices and love that mothers give to their children.

The board’s decision to create greater sacrifices is not just an affront to mothers but anyone caring for children – and let’s not forget about the children themselves. 

Should the California Board of Pharmacy change its current position on flavoring and begin to regulate this core pharmacy service under new compounding standards? If they do, most pharmacies in California will cease to offer flavoring to their customers. 

If that were to happen, parents in California, who rely on flavoring now, would be forced to find a compounding pharmacy, likely travel farther, and take more time out of their already hectic schedules. More than likely, parents and their kids will suffer from the experience of taking bad-tasting medicine again.  How awful! In celebrating mothers for their hard work and love, fathers soon as well. Why would the state of California suddenly make it harder for parents to care for their loved ones?