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Why does Paxlovid make things taste bitter? | Science | AAAS

Apparently, I’m one of the 6% who get “Paxlovid mouth.” Day Two on this medicine and my tongue is constantly telling me something in my mouth is bitter. It’s annoying but bearable – certainly not a reason to stop taking the medicine as some foolish people apparently do.

Paxlovid can prevent severe illness from COVID-19, but it comes with a price: In many users, the antiviral drug leaves a weird, metallic aftertaste that can last for days—a condition nicknamed “Paxlovid mouth.”

Now, researchers say they’ve figured out why. A component of Paxlovid activates one of the tongue’s bitter taste receptors even at low levels, which may draw out the yuck factor, the team reports this month in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. The work could lead to ways to alleviate the unpleasant side effect.

The study is a “good first step” in teasing apart the mechanism behind Paxlovid mouth, says Alissa Nolden, a sensory scientist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who was not involved with the research. But she says more work will be needed to truly understand why the metallic taste lingers for so long.

Source: Why does Paxlovid make things taste bitter? | Science | AAAS