Applications of Polymers as Pharmaceutical Excipients in Solid Oral Dosage Forms

Nir Debotton, Arik Dahan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Over the last few decades, polymers have been extensively used as pharmaceutical excipients in drug delivery systems. Pharmaceutical polymers evolved from being simply used as gelatin shells comprising capsule to offering great formulation advantages including enabling controlled/slow release and specific targeting of drugs to the site(s) of action (the “magic bullets” concept), hence hold a significant clinical promise. Oral administration of solid dosage forms (e.g., tablets and capsules) is the most common and convenient route of drug administration. When formulating challenging molecules into solid oral dosage forms, polymeric pharmaceutical excipients permit masking undesired physicochemical properties of drugs and consequently, altering their pharmacokinetic profiles to improve the therapeutic effect. As a result, the number of synthetic and natural polymers available commercially as pharmaceutical excipients has increased dramatically, offering potential solutions to various difficulties. For instance, the different polymers may allow increased solubility, swellability, viscosity, biodegradability, advanced coatings, pH dependency, mucodhesion, and inhibition of crystallization. The aim of this article is to provide a wide angle prospect of the different uses of pharmaceutical polymers in solid oral dosage forms. The various types of polymeric excipients are presented, and their distinctive role in oral drug delivery is emphasized. The comprehensive know-how provided in this article may allow scientists to use these polymeric excipients rationally, to fully exploit their different features and potential influence on drug delivery, with the overall aim of making better drug products.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-97
Number of pages46
JournalMedicinal Research Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Pharmacokinetics
  • biopharmaceutics
  • excipient
  • oral dosage form
  • oral drug delivery
  • polymer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery


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