Published On : 2018-09-11
Over the years, pharmaceuticals and drug industries have evolved in various ways. Newer innovations and technological advancements enabled to produce better and effective products. Empty capsules are conventionally used as a dosage form for prescribed drugs, OTC drugs, herbal products and nutrient supplements. These capsules are made from gelatin derived from animal protein and plant polysaccharides or their derivatives. This is mainly because gelatin is non-toxic, readily dissolves in the biological fluid at body temperature, good forming material, and is acceptable for use. Empty capsules are typically used to mask strong odor and unpleasant taste of drugs.
Empty capsule consists of two encased parts: body and cap. The body has lesser diameter and is filled with various drug dosage forms. On the other hand, the cap has higher diameter which seals the body of the empty capsules. Application of empty capsules is important when the texture of a drug is not easy to develop in the form of a tablet. Active product to be filled in an empty capsule is usually dry powder or granular. It can also be used for filling semi-solid or liquid dosage forms of drugs that have poor water solubility, critically stability, low bioavailability, low melting points, and low/high potency.
Vegetarian-based Empty Capsules to Witness a Significant Demand in the Coming Years
Empty capsules are an efficient and reliable packaging solution of pharmaceutical drugs. Different raw materials of empty capsules are available and come in varying sizes depending on the packaging requirements. Empty capsules can be divided into two types: gelatin-based and vegetarian-based.
Raw materials of gelatin-based empty capsules include type-A gelatin (pork skin), type-B gelatin (animal bones and calf skin), and fish bone gelatin. They are further divided into hard capsules used for filling solid substance and soft capsule used for filling liquid and semi-solid material. Gelatin-based empty capsules can handle wide range of products and are easy and convenient to fill. Gelatin (hard)-based empty capsules are becoming increasingly important for administration of new active ingredients, colon drug delivery, oral vaccination, and even in preclinical and clinical trials. They can adapt nearly all capsule filling application and take about 3 minutes to disintegrate and release the content. However, gelatin-based empty capsules are not suitable for hygroscopic drugs as they absorb water present in the capsule shell and cause brittle surface and ultimately breakdown into two pieces.
Due to increasing number of population inclining towards vegetarian or vegan diet, there has been a growing demand for vegetarian-based empty capsules in pharmaceutical industry. They are mainly made up plant polysaccharide such as Hydroxy Propyl Methyl Cellulose (HPMC), pullulan, and starch materials. These empty capsules are the choice for pharmaceutical applications as vegetarian alternative to gelatin. HPMC is a stable materials and has good mechanical properties suitable for developing empty capsules. Vegetarian-based empty capsules have low moisture content and ensure more stability for hygroscopic fills as compared to gelatin-based empty capsules. They impart rough surface and offer better adhesion of coating materials to the shells. Few dietary and other restrictions of gelatin capsules make the use of vegetarian-based capsules a reliable alternative. They are recommended for encapsulating dry powders for inhalers using filled capsules.