What is an excipient?

Honey has been used as an excipient to improve the taste of medicine for children.

An excipient is an inactive ingredient that is added to a pharmaceutical compound. There are a number of reasons to use excipients, ranging from the desire to hide unpleasant flavors to the need to precisely control dosages. As a general rule, pharmaceutical companies must be able to prove that an excipient is safe to use before they can sell a drug that contains the product, and inactive ingredients may need to be listed on drug labels to comply with the law.

Many drugs given intravenously come in powder form and must be mixed with intravenous fluids to be administered.

People have used excipients in drug administration for centuries. Historically, for example, medicines were often mixed with honey or syrup to mask the taste for children to take. This use of excipient hides flavor and makes delivery easier. Other excipients can be added to drugs as diluents, in the case of drugs with potent active ingredients, to facilitate the delivery of precise doses, making the drug more voluminous.

An excipient is an inactive ingredient added to a pharmaceutical compound.

An inactive ingredient can facilitate the absorption of a drug by the body or decrease the rate of absorption of the drug, in the form of a sustained-release coating that allows the drug to dissolve slowly. Other excipients can make drugs physically easier to swallow or make it easier for the drug to break down when it reaches the right area of ​​the body. Excipients can also act as binders, holding a drug’s ingredients together so they can be dispensed properly.

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Excipients can be used to hide unpleasant flavors in certain medications.

Some drugs tend to separate or lose effectiveness if kept in storage, in which case the excipient can act as a preservative to keep the drug potent. Other drugs wear off quickly when they are mixed with an excipient, in which case the active and inactive ingredients can be packaged separately and mixed as needed. This is common with drugs used for intravenous administration, which usually come in the form of powders that must be mixed with intravenous fluids for administration.

Inhalers, sprays and creams use excipients for their method of application. Inhalers, for example, contain propellants that aerosolize the drug and ensure it is delivered evenly, while topical creams are typically made with an inactive cream base to which active ingredients are added.

People with allergies need to be careful with inactive ingredients in medicine because allergens may be involved in the production of some inactive ingredients. Corn, wheat, dairy and eggs are used to make medicines. In patients with allergies, it may be necessary to specifically order a brand name known to be safe, rather than a generic version, to ensure that a drug does not cause an allergic reaction.

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