Does medicine always taste bad in Germany?
September 1, 2016 2:38 PM   Subscribe

I'm from the UK. I bought some over-the-counter cold medication in Germany recently. It tasted really bad, much worse than any UK meds I have had. Is this a cultural thing e.g " if it tastes bad, it's good for you"?

For completeness, the specific stuff I bought is Rhinopront and it tastes extremely bitter.
posted by Jakey to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't think you are supposed to taste those. They're just pills to swallow.
posted by beagle at 2:54 PM on September 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Yeah it says on the leaflet to swallow them together with water; you're not supposed to taste them. Also, this stuff seems available in a bunch of countries, so no "cultural thing."
posted by Namlit at 3:01 PM on September 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

If there is a difference, it's probably just a coating on the tablet in the product you're used to. There are reasons to include this coating (e.g. less yucky taste) and reasons not to (e.g. delays the medicine's absorption). Perhaps the efficient Germans simply prefer to have the medicine work as quickly as possible and are willing to put up with the taste? Perhaps other German products cater to those who prefer not to taste their medicine? It's hard to draw a conclusion on an entire culture based on one data point.

(And "you take it with water, you're not supposed to taste it" isn't an answer. You can't put a tablet on your tongue to swallow it and not taste it.)
posted by kindall at 3:14 PM on September 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

I think it depends how you personally take pills. I always take a big sip of water and toss the pills into my mouth and swallow it all together. I never taste the coating (or lack thereof) of any pill I take, and can't imagine placing a dry pill on my tongue. So seconding 'you aren't supposed to taste the pills anyway' rather than a cultural issue.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 3:38 PM on September 1, 2016 [7 favorites]

Anecdata: I find some UK painkillers "sweeter" than their Danish counterpart.
posted by kariebookish at 4:14 PM on September 1, 2016

Probably not the case with this specific medicine but when I lived in Germany I found that a lot more common medication was sold in suppository form rather then tablets to swallow. I know a lot of expats and visitors who were all, "this medicine tastes terrible !" only to find out they were putting it in the wrong orifice.
posted by lollusc at 4:27 PM on September 1, 2016 [14 favorites]

I thought it used to be, if I tasted bad, kids wouldn't OD on a whole bottle of it.
posted by ridgerunner at 7:17 PM on September 1, 2016

I lived in Germany for two years and took a range of medications (thanks to wonderful healthcare), some OTC, some prescription, some made in and only sold in Germany, even two which were liquids I had to put under my tongue. None of them tasted of anything.

There are 80 million people in Germany. Deciding they're all the same based on one experience is actually kind of offensive.
posted by shelleycat at 9:30 PM on September 1, 2016 [3 favorites]

This is anecdotal, but at least points to some meds in Germany being sweet-flavored: my college German professor couldn't drink root beer, because it tasted just like a medicine he'd had as a child.
posted by jessicapierce at 9:55 PM on September 1, 2016 [2 favorites]

The UK medicines you've taken taste bad too - they've just been given a thin coating to keep that taste away while you swallow. Whether drugs get this coating is basically dependent on
1. cost (no point adding a coating if it destroys your profit margin) - branded OTC meds are more likely to have a sweet one.
2. whether it's aimed at people with swallowing difficulties e.g. the elderly, children, those on other meds
3. whether the coating would significantly interfere with the speed of absorption.

You happened to buy a drug where the manufacturers made a decision not to coat; it's a pharmo-economic thing, not cultural (and if it *were* cultural, might be worth noting that the company that makes those tablets is Italian, not German!)
posted by AFII at 12:06 AM on September 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

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