In the vast array of pharmaceutical forms available on the market, it is essential to be well informed so that you can choose the one best suited to your needs.
Pharmaceutical forms play a crucial role especially in the efficacy and tolerability of medicines. But they can also have their own importance in taking supplements.
In this article we will then look at the characteristics, benefits and disadvantages of the different pharmaceutical forms to help you choose the best solution for your needs.
What is “pharmaceutical form”: definition
The pharmaceutical form is the physical presentation of the drug or supplement, that is, the way it is formulated and administered.
There are several pharmaceutical forms, each with specific characteristics and benefits:
- Tablets: solid and compact, ideal for precise dosing and slow releases.
- Capsules: gelatin containers that enclose powders, liquids or granules for easy swallowing and absorption.
- Sachets: disposable containers of water-soluble powders or granules, suitable for variable dosing and rapid absorption.
- Liquids: solutions, suspensions or emulsions, ideal for oral, topical or injectable administration.
The term was coined for drugs, and only later was it used for supplements as well.
In the remainder of this article, given the nature of our blog, we will refer only to dietary supplements.
Tablets: features and benefits
Tablets are one of the most popular and well-known pharmaceutical forms, often associated with greater stability and precise dosing. Benefits of the tablets include:
- Precise dosage:
because of their strength, the tablets allow accurate and consistent dosages to be taken.
- Controlled release:
some tablets may be formulated to gradually release the functional actives in the supplement gradually, enhancing their effectiveness.
tablets tend to have greater stability and a longer shelf-life than other pharmaceutical forms.
Tablets also have some disadvantages:
- Difficulty swallowing:
some people, especially children and the elderly, may find it difficult to swallow solid tablets.
- Limitations in flavor masking:
the flavor of the actives in the tablets may be unpleasant for some consumers.
Capsules: characteristics and benefits
Capsules are another common pharmaceutical form, consisting of a gelatin shell enclosing powders, granules, or liquids.
Benefits of capsules include:
- Ease of swallowing:
the smooth surface of capsules makes them easier to swallow than tablets, especially for those who have difficulty swallowing solid forms.
- Taste masking:
gelatin wrapping can help hide the unpleasant taste of some actives, making the intake more palatable.
- Rapid absorption: the capsules dissolve quickly in the stomach, allowing fast absorption of the active’supplement.
However, capsules also have some disadvantages:
- Higher cost:
capsules can be more expensive to produce than tablets, which can affect the final price of the product.
- Sensitivity to moisture:
capsules are more sensitive to moisture than tablets, which may affect their storage.
Sachets: characteristics and benefits
Sachets are small pouches containing soluble powders or granules that turn into a liquid preparation when dissolved in water. They are ideal for those looking for an easy-to-take and quickly absorbable solution.
Benefits of the sachets include:
- Ease of use: the sachets are easy to open and mix with water, making intake simple and convenient.
- Rapid absorption: once dissolved in water, the substances in the sachets are rapidly absorbed by the body.
- Dosage customization: in some cases the sachets can be easily dosed according to individual needs, allowing for tailored treatment.
Disadvantages of sachets include:
- Larger footprint:
sachets take up more space than tablets and capsules, which can be impractical for those who travel or have limited space.
- Possibility of product dispersion:
if not handled properly, the sachets can leak the contents, making it difficult to take the correct dosage.
Liquids: characteristics and benefits
Liquids, such as solutions, suspensions or emulsions, offer a dynamic and versatile means of administration. And they adapt to different consumer needs and preferences.
Benefits of liquids include:
- Ease of administration: depending on need, fluids can be administered through different routes, such as oral, topical, or injectable (as in the case of some medical devices).
- Dosage adaptability: liquid dosages can be easily adjusted, enabling personalized treatment.
- Rapidity of action: liquids tend to be absorbed more rapidly than other pharmaceutical forms, providing faster therapeutic action.
Disadvantages of liquids include:
- Storage issues: liquids may require specific storage conditions, such as keeping them at low temperatures or away from light.
- Increased risk of contamination: liquids are more susceptible to contamination than solid forms, which can affect the quality and efficacy of the drug over time.
- Difficulties in transport: liquids can be more difficult to transport than other pharmaceutical forms, as they can spill or break during transport.
Each pharmaceutical form has specific advantages and disadvantages.
The choice best suited to your needs will depend on several factors, including your age, personal preferences, health condition, and the type of treatment needed. Carefully consider the following aspects to choose the best form for you:
- Ease of intake and swallowing
- Speed of absorption and effectiveness of action
- Dosage customization
- Storage and transportation
Remember that the right pharmaceutical form can make the difference between a more effective treatment and a less effective one.