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Complete Formulation Process of Tablet

Formulation Process of Tablet: Tablet formulation in pharmaceuticals is a sophisticated process that transforms active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) into safe, effective, and convenient oral dosage forms. Tablets are the most popular dosage form, valued for their precise dosing, stability, and ease of administration.

  1. Defining Tablets in Pharmaceuticals: A tablet is a solid dosage form, usually disk-shaped, containing medicinal substances with or without excipients. They are designed to deliver an accurate dosage of a drug to the patient.
  2. Importance of Tablets: They are favored for their convenience, long shelf life, and ease of mass production. Tablets can be designed to release the drug immediately or over an extended period, catering to various therapeutic needs.
  3. Overview of the Formulation Process: Tablet formulation involves several key stages, from pre-formulation studies to understand the drug’s properties to post-production quality control. Each stage is critical to ensure that the tablets are effective, safe, and patient-friendly.
Formulation Process of Tablet
Formulation Process of Tablet

Complete Formulation Process of Tablet

Pre-Formulation Studies: Formulation Process of Tablet

Pre-formulation studies are a preliminary yet crucial phase in the tablet formulation process, laying the groundwork for successful tablet development:

Analysis of Drug Properties

Understanding the physical and chemical properties of the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) is vital. This includes studying its solubility, stability, polymorphism, and compatibility. These properties influence how the API behaves in the body and how it should be formulated.

Excipient Compatibility Studies

Excipients are non-active ingredients that aid in tablet manufacturing and stability. They include binders, diluents, disintegrants, and lubricants. Testing for compatibility between the API and these excipients is essential to prevent reactions that could affect the tablet’s effectiveness or safety.

Optimizing Drug Bioavailability

Pre-formulation studies also focus on optimizing the bioavailability of the API. This involves determining the best formulation strategy to ensure that the drug is released at the desired rate and absorbed effectively in the body.

Establishing Formulation Parameters

Based on these studies, critical formulation parameters are established. These include the choice of excipients, the dosage form, and the manufacturing process.

Pre-formulation studies are a critical step in ensuring that the ensuing tablet formulation process is efficient, effective, and leads to a high-quality product. They provide the necessary data to make informed decisions in the formulation design.

Formulation Process of Tablet

The formulation development (Formulation Process of Tablet) stage is where the actual design and composition of the tablet are established, incorporating findings from pre-formulation studies:

Selection of Appropriate Excipients

Binders: Such as cellulose, starch, and polyvinylpyrrolidone, are used to ensure that the tablet holds together. For example, microcrystalline cellulose is a common binder that also aids in disintegration and absorption.

Diluents: These fillers, like lactose or calcium phosphate, add bulk to the tablet, especially when the dose of the API is very low.

Disintegrants: Substances like croscarmellose sodium or starch help the tablet break down into smaller particles for better absorption upon ingestion.

Lubricants: Magnesium stearate, for instance, is used to prevent tablet ingredients from sticking to the equipment during manufacturing.

Dosing and Proportioning of Ingredients

The amounts of API and each excipient must be carefully calculated. The dosage of the API is based on its therapeutic effectiveness, while the proportions of excipients are determined based on their function and compatibility with the API.

For example, in a pain relief tablet containing 500 mg of paracetamol (API), excipients like starch (disintegrant), povidone (binder), and magnesium stearate (lubricant) are added in specific ratios to create a stable and effective tablet.

Consideration of Tablet Properties

Tablet properties such as size, shape, hardness, and disintegration time are also considered during this stage. These attributes are crucial for patient compliance and the tablet’s effectiveness.

For instance, a heart medication might be formulated as a small, round, and easy-to-swallow tablet with a fast disintegration time for rapid action.

Balancing Physical and Chemical Stability

The formulation must ensure that the tablet remains physically intact and chemically stable throughout its shelf life.

Antioxidants or preservatives may be added to enhance stability, especially if the API is prone to degradation.

Formulation development is a meticulous process that balances the therapeutic needs of the API with the physical and chemical properties of the tablet.

It’s an iterative process, often involving trial formulations to achieve the optimal balance of effectiveness, stability, and patient acceptability.

Process of Granulation: Formulation Process of Tablet

Granulation (Formulation Process of Tablet) is a pivotal stage in tablet formulation, aimed at improving the physical properties of the powder mixture to ensure high-quality tablets. This process can be executed through various methods:

Wet Granulation

In this method, a liquid binder is added to the powder mixture to form agglomerates. For instance, a mixture of paracetamol, lactose, and microcrystalline cellulose might be granulated using a solution of polyvinylpyrrolidone.

After granulation, the wet mass is dried and sized. This process is ideal for heat-sensitive drugs as it prevents degradation.

Dry Granulation

This involves compacting and then milling the powder mixture without any liquid. It’s used when the drug or other components are sensitive to moisture or heat. For example, aspirin, which is sensitive to moisture, is often processed by dry granulation.

The compaction is typically achieved through a roller compactor or a slugging process.

Direct Compression

This is the simplest method, where the powder mixture is compressed into tablets without any prior granulation. It requires free-flowing and cohesive powders. A classic example is the compression of chewable vitamin tablets, which are often made using directly compressible sugars.

However, not all powder mixtures are suitable for this method, as some may not possess the necessary flow or compression characteristics.

Pros and Cons of Each Method

Wet Granulation: Offers better uniformity of the drug but is time-consuming and involves multiple steps.

Dry Granulation: Suitable for moisture-sensitive drugs, but the process may not achieve uniformity as effectively as wet granulation.

Direct Compression: Time-efficient and cost-effective but limited to formulations where the ingredients have the right properties for direct compaction.

Wet GranulationBetter uniformity of drug distribution; suitable for a range of drugsTime-consuming; involves multiple steps; potential for drug degradation
Dry GranulationIdeal for moisture/heat-sensitive drugs; simpler than wet granulationMay not achieve uniformity effectively; limited applicability
Direct CompressionTime-efficient and cost-effective; fewer processing stepsLimited to formulations with specific flow and compression properties
This table provides a clear comparison, helping in the decision-making process for the most suitable granulation method based on the specific requirements of the tablet formulation.

Granulation enhances the flowability, compressibility, and uniformity of the powder mixture, making it a critical step in the tablet formulation process. The choice of granulation technique depends on the properties of the drug and excipients, and the desired characteristics of the final tablet.

Tablet Compression: Formulation Process of Tablet

Tablet compression (Formulation Process of Tablet) is a critical phase in tablet manufacturing, where the granulated material is compacted into a solid dosage form. This process involves precise mechanics and parameters:

Pre-Compression Considerations

Before compression, the granulated material’s flow properties and compressibility are assessed. For instance, a mixture for a high-dose ibuprofen tablet must flow consistently into the die for uniform tablets.

Moisture content and particle size distribution are also checked, as they can significantly affect the compression process.

Compression Mechanics and Parameters

The granulated material is fed into a tablet press, where it’s compressed between two punches within a die. The pressure applied, often several tons, is meticulously controlled.

For example, a calcium supplement tablet may require a specific compression force to achieve the desired hardness without breaking apart.

Quality Control During Compression

Tablet weight, hardness, thickness, and friability are continuously monitored. This ensures each tablet is consistent with the desired specifications.

Advanced compression machines can adjust in real-time to maintain uniformity, critical for products like extended-release tablets where precise dosing is essential.

Examples of Compression Challenges

High-dose drugs may require additional excipients to facilitate compression without affecting the drug’s release profile.

Low-dose drugs, such as certain thyroid medications, require precision in distributing the tiny amount of API evenly across batches.

The tablet compression stage is where the physical attributes of the tablet are finalized, including its size, shape, hardness, and dissolution characteristics. It requires a balance between the mechanical properties of the tablet and the pharmacological requirements of the drug.

Quality Control During Tablet Compression: Formulation Process of Tablet

Quality control during the tablet compression process is essential to ensure that each tablet meets the required standards. Here’s a brief overview of the procedures involved:

Weight Variation Checks

Tablets are periodically weighed to ensure uniformity in dosage. Any significant deviation triggers adjustments in the compression machine.

Hardness Testing

The hardness of tablets is measured to ensure they’re strong enough to withstand handling but not so hard that they don’t dissolve properly. For example, a standard aspirin tablet requires a specific hardness for optimal dissolution.

Thickness and Diameter Measurement

Tablets are checked for consistent thickness and diameter, which are critical for uniformity and packaging standards.

Friability Testing

This test involves tumbling tablets and then measuring the amount of abrasion or breakage. Tablets should not lose more than a small percentage of their weight, ensuring they won’t crumble during handling and transport.

Disintegration Testing

Some tablets are tested to ensure they break down correctly within a specified time in a simulated fluid, like gastric or intestinal fluid.

Visual Inspection

Tablets are visually inspected for cracks, chips, and other defects. Automated systems often use high-speed cameras for this purpose.

Corrective Actions

If any deviations are observed, corrective actions are taken immediately. This may involve adjusting the compression parameters or even halting production to resolve issues.

Coating of Tablets: Formulation Process of Tablet

Tablet coating is a key step in the formulation process, enhancing the tablet’s appearance, efficacy, and patient compliance. Here’s an overview with examples:

Types of Coatings

Film Coating: Thin, polymer-based coats that protect the tablet from environmental factors and mask unpleasant tastes or odors. For example, film-coated aspirin tablets prevent gastric irritation.

Sugar Coating: Traditional method involving the application of sugar layers, often used to improve taste and aesthetic appeal, like in some children’s vitamins.

Enteric Coating: Designed to withstand stomach acid and dissolve in the intestines, this coating is used for drugs like omeprazole, which can be irritating to the stomach.

Coating Process and Equipment

Tablets are tumbled in a coating drum while the coating solution is sprayed onto them. The process is carefully controlled for temperature and humidity to ensure even application.

Advanced coating machines can coat thousands of tablets per hour, ensuring efficiency and uniformity.

Purpose and Benefits of Coating

Coatings can control the release of the drug, protect it from degradation, improve swallowability, and enhance patient compliance.

For example, time-release coatings are used in medications like certain heart disease drugs, where a steady release of the drug is necessary over time.

Challenges in Coating

Achieving uniformity in coating thickness and ensuring the coating doesn’t alter the drug’s bioavailability are significant challenges.

Coating processes must be meticulously designed for each type of tablet, taking into account the drug’s properties and the intended release characteristics.

The coating of tablets is a sophisticated process that combines pharmaceutical science and engineering, playing a critical role in the final quality, efficacy, and acceptability of the tablet.

Post-Compression Analysis: Formulation Process of Tablet

After tablet compression and coating, post-compression analysis is crucial to ensure that the final product meets all quality and efficacy standards. This phase includes various tests:

Physical and Chemical Stability Testing

Tablets are tested for their stability under different environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, light). For instance, a blood pressure medication’s stability is assessed to ensure its efficacy over its shelf life.

Chemical stability tests ensure the drug doesn’t degrade or react with excipients over time.

Dissolution and Disintegration Testing

Dissolution tests measure how quickly the active ingredient is released into a solution, simulating how the drug will dissolve in the body. For example, an antibiotic’s effectiveness can be linked to its dissolution rate.

Disintegration tests check how quickly the tablet breaks down into smaller particles. This is crucial for immediate-release tablets.

Content Uniformity and Hardness Tests

Content uniformity tests ensure each tablet contains the correct amount of active ingredient. This is vital for low-dose drugs like levothyroxine, where small variations can impact therapeutic outcomes.

Hardness tests, often conducted alongside thickness and weight checks, ensure tablets are durable enough to handle but will dissolve appropriately when ingested.

Other Quality Control Tests

Additional tests like friability (resistance to chipping and crumbling) and visual inspection for defects are also conducted.

For instance, a friability test is essential for a fragile calcium supplement tablet to ensure it doesn’t break during packaging or transport.

This post-compression analysis phase is integral in ensuring that the tablet not only meets regulatory standards but also maintains its efficacy, safety, and quality throughout its intended shelf life.

Packaging and Labeling

The final steps in the tablet formulation process involve packaging and labeling, which are critical for protecting the tablets, ensuring patient safety, and complying with regulatory requirements:

  1. Selection of Packaging Materials:
    • Materials like blister packs, bottles, and strips are chosen based on factors like protection from moisture, light, and air. For example, moisture-sensitive tablets may be packaged in blister packs with a desiccant to prolong shelf life.
    • Child-resistant packaging is essential for certain medications to prevent accidental ingestion by children.
  2. Packaging Processes:
    • Tablets are typically packaged using automated machines that fill, seal, and label the packaging. For instance, high-speed blister packaging machines are used for mass-produced antibiotics.
    • The process also includes checks for correct tablet count and the integrity of the packaging.
  3. Compliance with Labeling Regulations:
    • Labels must include critical information like drug name, dosage, administration instructions, expiry date, and any warnings. For instance, a pain reliever might have specific dosage instructions and warnings about potential side effects.
    • Labels also must adhere to regulatory standards, ensuring readability and accuracy.
  4. Barcoding and Serialization:
    • Barcodes and serial numbers are often included for tracking and to prevent counterfeiting. This is particularly important for high-value or highly regulated drugs like opioid pain relievers.
  5. Tamper-Evident Features:
    • Packaging often includes tamper-evident features to ensure product integrity. This is crucial for maintaining patient trust and safety.

Quality Assurance and Control

Quality assurance and control are integral to the tablet manufacturing process (Formulation Process of Tablet), ensuring that the final product meets established standards of safety, efficacy, and quality:

  1. In-Process Quality Checks:
    • Throughout the production process, from granulation to packaging, continuous quality checks are performed. For instance, during tablet compression, parameters like weight, hardness, and thickness are monitored for each batch.
    • These checks help in identifying and correcting deviations promptly, ensuring consistent quality.
  2. Compliance with Pharmacopeia and Regulatory Standards:
    • The manufacturing process must adhere to standards set by pharmacopeias and regulatory bodies like the FDA or EMA. This includes guidelines on the manufacturing process, quality of ingredients, and testing methods.
    • For example, a new diabetes medication must meet specific regulatory criteria for dissolution rate and bioavailability before it can be marketed.
  3. Quality Control Laboratories:
    • Equipped with sophisticated analytical instruments, these labs conduct rigorous testing of samples from each batch. Tests include assay (to confirm drug potency), purity checks, and identification tests.
    • For a medication like a statin, used to lower cholesterol, the lab ensures each tablet contains the precise dose and is free from impurities.
  4. Documentation and Record Keeping:
    • Detailed records of each manufacturing step, test results, and quality checks are maintained. This documentation is crucial for traceability and in case of audits or investigations.
    • In the event of a recall, these records allow for quick identification of affected batches.
  5. Continuous Improvement:
    • Feedback from quality control processes is used for continuous improvement in manufacturing practices. This can lead to enhancements in formulation, process efficiency, and overall product quality.
    • For example, ongoing quality data might lead to the reformulation of an antihistamine to improve its shelf life.


In summary, the tablet formulation process in pharmaceutical manufacturing is a comprehensive and meticulous journey, blending science and technology to produce safe, effective, and consistent medications. From the initial pre-formulation studies to the final quality assurance and control, each step is crucial in ensuring that the tablets meet the required therapeutic standards and regulatory compliance.

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