Ever since their inception, capsules have been considered by most consumers to the most effective method of taking medication. Over the years, many drug-manufacturers such as Over-The-Counter analgesics developed the “capsule-shaped tablet” or “Caplet” to emphasize the effectiveness of their product, as well as to portray a positive association with more efficiently manufactured tablet pills .

Encapsulation refers to the technique of enclosing certain medicines within the capsules, allowing them to be taken orally. Encapsulation is useful when the intended drug needs to be mixed with oil or other liquid to aid its absorption in the body. Here, many consumers have a distinct preference for capsules – as being easier to swallow as well as being more effective. Besides Encapsulation allows drug to be absorbed more effectively, so lower doses can be used which in turn means the soft capsules can be made smaller, making swallowing easier.

There are two main categories of capsules:

Hard capsules : More commonly seen, Hard Capsules are made of rigid shell in two pieces that fit together, and filled with the prescribed drug. This formulation is typically more suited for dry and powdered drugs.

Soft capsules : Made in a single piece, Soft capsules are primarily for active ingredients that are dis solvable in oils or other liquids eg Fish oils or drugs that need to be dissolved in oils or other liquids, to aid their absorption in the stomach.

The Process
A capsule contains medication, usually within a small gelatin container that is easily digestible by the body. Many Drug-Manufacturers use capsules because the nature of certain medicines makes it difficult to produce them in a tablet form. Creating a tablet requires an appropriate binding substance that allows the medication to form a solid shape, but without adversely affecting its properties or bio availability.

There are mainly two categories of materials that are used in encapsulation:

Gelatin capsules or gel caps are composed of gelatin manufactured from the collagen of animal skin or bone Vegetable capsules are composed of Plant polysaccharides or their derivatives like carriageways, and modified forms of starch and cellulose

In addition, various other ingredients can also be added to the gel-formation agent such as glycerin to decrease the capsule's hardness, coloring agents, preservatives, lubricants and surface treatment.

Encapsulation of hard gelatin capsules can be done on automatic, semi-automatic as well as manual machines. While encapsulation of Soft Gel capsules require fully automatic machines, as they are produced, filled and sealed at the same time.