We’ve all taken various medicines during our life for different purposes. They help us feel better and get back to our lives. But have you ever considered all the formulations that treatments are available in?
What is a Formulation?
According to the medical dictionary, a formulation is “The process of preparing a drug in a particular way or a specific form, such as a tablet, capsule, linctus, ointment, or for one of the various forms of injection.”
To put it simply, it means all the different forms that you can take medicine in. It can be solid, semisolid, liquid, spray, or more. Of course, we don’t think about it when we take the medicine. We just use it. But the truth is that the type of formulation for any drug given to a patient depends upon the patient and their condition. This includes all the patient’s data like age, gender, weight, health, and more. Also, it depends on the routes that are best for the administration of the drug. Before medicines started being made commercially, this was the way doctors prescribed medicines to patients. They would write down the patient’s complete history and condition and send the prescription to a compounding pharmacy, which would then create the customized treatment for the patient. At the time, they were called apothecaries. But then commercially produced drugs came into the mainstream, and compounding pharmacies went into the background. But now, compounding pharmacies have become popular once again. The main reason is that patients now need personalized medications that are made specifically for them.
So, let’s see what types of formulations there are and which ones are best for you.
Solid formulations are maybe the most used type of medicine worldwide. They are usually given orally. They are:
Solid drugs can be administered in the form of tablets. A tablet is made by compressing the coarse powder in a machine. It is disc-shaped. Different drugs are present in different quantities, but mostly they are in small amounts. The rest is made up of fillers. Once the tablet is made, it is coated with a substance, usually starch, which swells up when it comes into contact with the fluid. That is so the tablet can disintegrate as it reaches the Gastro-Intestinal Tract (GI Tract). There are also binding agents used in tablets that hold them together. Tablets are either sugar-coated or film-coated.
Enteric Coated Tablets
Enteric-coated tablets are coated with a material that disintegrates when it reaches the alkali medium of the intestines. The acidic medium of the stomach doesn’t have any effect on it. These tablets have EC written on them, which means that you cannot crush or break them apart when swallowing them. They have to be taken as a whole.
Almost all of us have taken capsules from time to time. They come in two categories: hard and soft. The hard capsules contain the ingredients in solid form. Conversely, the soft capsules contain the main ingredients in either liquid or semisolid form.
Sustained Release Preparations
These are also called ‘slow release’ or ‘sustained release’ drugs. This is because they have a very short half-life and are made to release gradually in the digestive tract. Unfortunately, you don’t have these tablets available in the market freely. Instead, you have to go to a reliable compounding pharmacy that can create this formulation for you.
Liquid and Semisolid Formulations
Apart from the tablets and the capsules, we also have liquid and semisolid formulations for various drugs. These can be administered through multiple routes.
Oral Liquid Preparations
A compounding pharmacist will prepare these formulations when patients find it difficult to swallow solid medicines. They can also add flavours or sugar depending on the patient’s needs. This is especially beneficial for children, and hence pediatric compounding is becoming more and more popular with each passing day. Children have a hard time swallowing large tablets, and capsules and liquid formulations are the easiest solutions, especially when they can be made in the child’s favourite flavour. However, it’s not just for children. A lot of older people also prefer it in this way. There are different types of liquids available for patients like:
When you need to apply a drug directly to the target area, this type of treatment is called topical application. You must have used or seen someone use a pain cream or ointment. It is not only for the skin but also hair and can also be used in the mouth.
Drops are used for eyes, nose, ears, and more. They are isotonic so that the patient doesn’t feel any pain or discomfort. If the drops are for the eyes, they can be either water-based or oil-based suspensions. If they are meant for the nose, they are primarily water-based since the oil-based drops can enter the trachea and might lead to other problems. Ear drops are oil-based solutions.
Creams and Ointments
Creams have an aqueous base so that the water evaporates as soon as the cream is applied, and the main ingredients stay on the skin. Most of the cream stays on the superficial layer of the skin and isn’t absorbed into the system. Ointments are not water-based. They have a lipid base. When you apply an ointment on the skin, it bars the air, and as a result, sweating happens. This makes the skin very soft, and the drug can penetrate the skin easily.
Gels and Lotions
Gels and lotions are alcohol-based and are especially useful in areas that have a lot of hair. The evaporation is even quicker than water, and therefore no penetration occurs.
When we talk about rectal administrative formulations, we see suppositories. They are absorbed by the rectal mucosa and enter the bloodstream directly. They are ideal for patients who are not conscious or have nausea, difficulty swallowing, or more. Another rectal administrative formulation is the enema. They are liquids and can be used for systemic or topical treatment of the bowel.
These are also known as pessaries. They are meant for topical treatment.
Subcutaneous, Intramuscular, and Intravenous Injections
These are all types of injections that can be formulated to ensure that the drug reaches its target. They are usually for medicines that cannot be given through the mouth or any other mode.
Now that you know all the types of formulations, you can talk to your doctor about prescribing the kind of medicine you can easily take. This will enhance compliance and help you feel better, faster. If you want to learn more, feel free to contact us, and our expert consultants will gladly answer all your questions.
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