Intranasal formulations
Oral formulations
Percutaneous formulations
Parenteral formulations
Intranasal formulations
Oral formulations
Percutaneous formulations
Parenteral formulations

How Medications Enter the Body

Readingtime 2 minutes

In the past 200 years, pharmacology and medicine have considerably expanded the methods by which medical active ingredients can be transported into the body. All four methods were basically already known in antiquity.

Thanks to increasing knowledge about the biochemistry of the body, formulations of active ingredients have become high-tech processes.



Early tablets were pressed from a mixture of the active ingredient, fillers such as starch, and binders such as gelatin.



Two-piece telescoping capsules enable better administration of unpleasant-tasting active ingredients in powder form.

Dragée —A tablet with a sugar coating


Dragées have a thick sugar coating to protect them against light and moisture, which is modeled on those used by confectioners.

Modern tablet


Thanks to extremely thin polymer coatings, tablets can work aer a time delay or only when they reach specific parts of the intestine.

Passive drug delivery — Liposomes


The lipid bilayer, sometimes enhanced with a layer of polyethylene glycol, protects the active ingredient until it reaches its target tissue.

Passive drug delivery — Metal particles


Sugar-coated particles of gold or iron oxide are physically excited to cause cell death in tumor tissue.

Active drug delivery — Liposomes

The future

Formulations such as liposomes will use special ligand molecules to dock precisely onto receptors on tumor cells.

Size comparison:

photo: Shutterstock
Illustrations: Max Nertinger


10 October 2018

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