It sounds like something childhood dreams are made of, but medication tasting like chocolate could soon become a reality.

Researchers from the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists have been fine-tuning trial products to use before and after people have operations.

The first is a chocolate mini-tablet, developed to replace the bitter taste of sedative midazolam given to children before they have anaesthetic.

It is still in the early stages of testing in young patients but the signs are looking good, researchers say.


The research was ground-breaking, Professor Britta Regli-von Ungern-Sternberg, who has been testing the product with a research team and an Australian pharmacologist, said.

"While taking midazolam leads to a smoother and more comfortable experience at the induction of anaesthesia, many children hate to take it and that leads to more grief for children and their caregivers - and when it is spat out we can't know of its effectiveness," she said.

She hopes the research would lead to a ramp up in the manufacture of chocolate-based midazolam tablets for use in paediatric hospital wards. The chocolate base could also be adapted for use in other bitter drugs.

The effectiveness and safety of chewing gum compared with ondansetron - a common anti-nausea drug - is also being trialled to combat sickness after surgery.

Anaesthetist and researcher Dr Jai Darvall said post-operative nausea was a significant complication of anaesthesia.

"In addition to patient discomfort, there are cost burdens associated with post-operative nausea and vomiting, and patient discharge is delayed," Dr Darvall said.

"Chewing gum, if effective, is a cheap alternative therapy to medication."

The chewing gum will be trialled on 100 women aged 18 and over undergoing keyhole or breast surgery, as nausea and vomiting after anaesthesia is more common in female patients.


The research projects received funding from the Anaesthesia and Pain Medicine Foundation of ANZCA, which supports research across the fields of anaesthesia and pain medicine. Funding from the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation was also received for the mini-tablet trial.