Immediate release capsules with a simple powder filling are the best known type of hard gelatin capsules. They require only a few manufacturing process steps. It is easy to mix the active substance with excipients and to fill the mix into capsules.

In comparison with conventional tablet production, capsule production does not require expensive and time consuming operations like repeated mixing and sieving, or granulation and compression such in tablet manufacturing. This long process of manufacturing certainly require higher costs : for excipients, analysis and validation, which can add as much as 15% to the overall cost of production.

Table : Comparison Manufacturing Process of Tablet and capsule

Manufacturing ProcessTablet
(Wet Granulation)
Tablet
(Dry Granulation)
Capsule
1WeighingWeighingWeighing
2Preparing ingredientsPreparing ingredientsPreparing ingredients
3MixingMixingMixing
4GranulatingAdding Lubricants (sieving and mixing) Filling into capsule
5DryingCompressionPacking
6SievingPacking
7Adding Lubricants (sieving and mixing)

8Compression

9Packing



Most people think that the production cost to produce capsule dosage form is more expensive than producing tablets. Well, that's wrong. In terms of stages of manufacture only we can see that the capsule only takes 5 stages, in contrast to the manufacture of tablets requires at least 6 stages (for dry granulation) and 9 stages (for wet granulation), not to mention if the tablet is coated.The number of excipients and operations involved in their production may actually be greater.

Hard gelatin capsule are actually easier and quicker to formulate and produce, whatever the batch size, compared with other solid oral dosage forms. Indeed, by using hard gelatin capsules it is possible to produce small or very small batch sizes on manual or semi-automatic filling machine.

This is of major advantages to the pharmaceutical industry when there is only a very limited quantity of active ingredients available for formulation and initial clinical testing. Dispensing pharmacies and clinics also gain by using hard gelatin capsules when they have to produce small quantities or when they have prepare a single prescription as a solid oral dosage form.

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