Tabletting: the issues facing today's manufacturers

May 31, 2010
By PharmTech Editors

The full version of this tabletting feature can be read in the June issue of our digital magazine: http://www.pharmtech.com/ptedigital0610


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Compressed tablets are the most popular solid dosage form and, despite having been used for many years, still offer numerous advantages. For instance, they are portable and very simple to use, and can protect unstable medications or disguise unpalatable ingredients. Importantly, the techniques and equipment required to manufacture compressed tablets are very well established, making the process relatively straightforward. Tablets can be manufactured in almost any size, shape and colour, and breakthroughs made over the years have allowed more complex tablets to be manufactured, such as sustained release or fast dissolving formulations, without the need to change current processes and equipment.


Figure 1
The maturity of tabletting technologies was highlighted in a recent PTE survey, where most respondents indicated that tablet manufacture problems could usually be traced back to poor formulation design rather than problems with manufacturing equipment (Figure 1).

As tabletting is so crucial to the pharma industry, we have dedicated this month's special feature to tabletting processes and technologies. Unlike some industries we have studied that have witnessed many innovations in recent years, the tablet manufacturing industry has remained relatively static and still utilises the same methods and technologies that have been around for many years, although in many cases improvements have been made to boost throughput and increase machine flexibility and efficiency.

Although there have been few major innovations, however, this doesn't mean that the industry is not evolving. The sector is seeing a shift in processing methodology as companies seek to implement Quality by Design principles and there is also a growing emphasis on generics. Additionally, the threat of falsified medicines has necessitated the need for coding and identification technologies, as well as sophisticated analytical methods that can distinguish between genuine and counterfeit products.

To find out about the current state of tablet manufacture, PTE spoke to several experts involved in the manufacturing process, including granulation, drying and equipment troubleshooting.

Our full special feature of tabletting technologies, featuring contributions on the subjects of blending, coating, tablet analysis and more, as well as a product showcase of some of the latest equipment and systems, can be accessed at: http://www.pharmtech.com/ptedigital0610/