By definition, an excipient is an inactive substance that has the role of a medium for active substances. Basically, they help active ingredients in supplements & medications do their job properly. While there are certain supplements, such as collagen powder and whey powder, that don’t require these kinds of mediums, excipients are necessary for other products. Why is that? Well, even though they add no therapeutic value to these products, excipients have been found to promote conservation, efficiency, and quality. What’s more, excipients appear to act as protective and bulking agents, improving the overall bioavailability of certain drugs.
The term excipient is used for any substance other than active drug or the active pharmaceutical ingredient that is contained in a certain product. Therefore, excipients are perceived as indispensable components of medical products, forming the bulk of the formulation, a review article on pharmaceutical excipients states. However, not all excipients can be used in the manufacturing process of all products, as it has to meet specific requirements. Nevertheless, there are “common” quality standards for all excipients, as all of them should be non-reactive, chemically stable, non-toxic, economical, low-equipment and process-sensitive, inert to the human body, efficient in regards to the intended use, and in accordance with organoleptic characteristics.
Even though the significance of excipients is not the most popular discussion, it is important to state that these elements greatly contribute to the overall product performance and the drug delivery within the body. When talking about product structure, you’ll rarely encounter an active ingredient administered alone, as excipients are necessary to enhance, mask, suspend, or dissolve it for improved quality. Therefore, excipients may be seen as vehicles transforming the desired active ingredient into a more efficient, bioavailable form. Excipients are also added with the intent of preventing microbial contamination and degradation of a certain product.
It would be wrong to think of excipients strictly as inactive support, as they’re much more than that. Some of the most pronounced excipient roles include increasing drug solubility, formulation and drug shelf life, absorption as well as the stability of the dosage form; formulating and providing identity for the dosage form, decreasing therapy cost, enhancing drug targeting, etc. Therefore, the activity of these elements is multilayered, and it encompasses stabilizing, protecting, increasing, enhancing the overall product formulation and quality.
Excipient Categories & Their Roles