What Type of Tablet Should You Choose

What Type of Tablet Should You Choose?

<p>Tablet design comes in many varieties, and understanding the ingredients, styles and production criteria can guide product formulation.</p>

Tablets are typically thought of as a white oblong piece taken orally and swallowed whole. Tablets are indeed solids, but they can be produced with a variety of attributesrapid release, enteric coated, effervescent or chewable, to name a few. Because tablet design comes in many forms, understanding tableting ingredients, tablet styles and options, and selection criteria can help you create a suitable tablet.

A basic tablet contains active ingredients and excipients (tableting agents). Excipients include some or all of the following:

  • Binders help the tablet stay in one piece.
  • Flow agents help the powder move uniformly through the tableting machinery, ensuring every tablet has the desired amount of active ingredients.
  • Anti-caking agents prevent the powder from clumping during blending and tableting.
  • Disintegrants help the tablet release the actives at the desired time.
  • Lubricants prevent tablets from sticking to machine parts during production, preventing chipped or broken tablets.
  • Fillers help make the tablet a desired size.
  • Coatings help protect the integrity of the tablet ingredients.

Tablets are usually one of the following types:

  • Standard tablets are meant to be swallowed whole and disintegrate in the stomach in approximately 30 minutes. They are normally coated to facilitate swallowing and prevent the consumer from tasting the ingredients.
  • Rapid-release tablets are designed to disintegrate quickly, usually within minutes of swallowing. They are a good choice for active ingredients that will work in the stomach.
  • Delayed- release tablets have an enteric coating and/or excipients that keep the tablet intact while in the stomach, but allow disintegration in the intestines.
  • Effervescent tablets are designed to be break apart quickly when put in a liquid, usually water. The formula will include an acid (citric acid, for example) and a carbonate (sodium bicarbonate, for example). The acid and carbonate will react with water to form a carbon dioxide fizz" to speed up tablet breakdown. Effervescent tablets are good for ingredients that are neutral in taste and act in the stomach.
  • Chewable tablets must be chewed before swallowing and typically contain a combination of colors, flavors and/or sweeteners. This tablet form is suitable for ingredients with neutral or sweet flavor or tablets that contain a large amount of active ingredients that do not lend themselves to being swallowed whole.
  • Multiple-layer tablets permit the combination of ingredients that are not compatible, will react when combined, or that need different tableting agents. There can be two or more layers of active ingredients.

Tablets can be produced in a variety of shapes and sizes, allowing for greater flexibility than can be achieved using a capsule. Typical shapes include round, oval, caplet, lozenge and specialty (such as hearts or hexagons). The weight can be adjusted via the thickness of the tablet. Tablets can be scored to allow the consumer to take less than a full dose. The face of the tablet can be stamped with a unique logo or design to differentiate it from other products.

Selecting a tablet style can be based on three criteria: active ingredients, location of action and target market. The chart below summarizes tablet choices based on these criteria:

Tablet Selection

 

Attribute

Standard

Tablet

Rapid

Release

Delayed

Release

Effervescent

Chewable

Neutral or Sweet-Tasting Actives

X

X

X

X

X

Bitter or Sour-Tasting Actives

X

 

X

 

 

Location of Action Mouth

 

X

 

X

 

Location of Action Stomach

X

X

 

X

X

Location of Action Intestine

X

 

X

 

 

Target Market Children

X

 

X

X

X

Target Market Adults

X

X

X

X

 

Target Market Seniors

X

 

X

X

X

By understanding the available tablet options and determining optimal market position, it is possible to create a tablet that will drive consumer acceptance and product success.

Mary Galloway, N.D., is the science and compliance manager at Pacific Nutritional in Vancouver, WA. She has more than 12 years of experience formulating supplements containing vitamins, minerals, herbs, proteins, fibers and specialty actives in tablet, capsule and powder forms; contact her at maryg@pacnut.com.

Find more information on tablets in INSIDER's Contract Manufacturing Content Library.

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