Sugar-free medicines are counterproductive

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


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Beverages / adverse effects
  • Cacao
  • Candy
  • Cariogenic Agents / adverse effects
  • Child
  • Dental Caries / etiology
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects
  • Drug Compounding
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Food
  • Health Policy
  • Humans
  • Medication Adherence
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage*
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles / administration & dosage*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sucrose / administration & dosage*
  • Sweetening Agents / administration & dosage
  • Taste


  • Cariogenic Agents
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Sweetening Agents
  • Sucrose