Almost all dyes used in medicine is a synthetic dye. Only a few are using natural dyes. These dyes used to color tablets (coated and uncoated), staining on the shell capsules, and syrup coloring. Giving color to the drug in addition to the aesthetic factor is also intended as product identification.

Tablets coloring made using the tablet coating technology, especially the coating film. Film coating on tablets aims to:
  • aesthetic tablets
  • maintaining the stability of tablets
  • product identification. 
Drug that color does not attract as herbal extracts, color cloudy, dull and uneven can be covered. There are two kind of dyes used in film coatings:
  • Synthetic dyes: FD &C Blue # 1 (or brilliant blue FCF or E133), FD & C Red No.40 (Allura red or AC or E129), FD & C Yellow No.5 (or tartrazine or E102), FD & C Blue No.2 ( or indigotine or E132), FD & C Green No. 3 (or fast green FCF or E143), FD & C Red No. 3 (or erythrosine or E127), and FD & C Yellow # 6 (or sunset yellow FCF or E110). Dyes are used that symbol FD & C which means the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved the relevant dyes in foods, drugs, and cosmetics.
  • Natural dyes : chlorophyll, anthocyanin, and karatenoid..
Not all drugs need to be coated. There are still shows its original color form, or given at the time prior to printing color tablets, mixing both dry and wet granulation.

There are two forms of capsule, hard-shelled capsule and soft capsule. Hard capsules consisting of body and cap while soft capsule is a unity. The dye in the capsule particularly hard-shelled capsule serves to know the identity of the pharmaceutical industry.

Hard capsules may also contain dyes that are allowed or dyes from a variety of iron oxide, opaque material such as titanium dioxide, dispersing materials, hardening materials such as sucrose and preservatives. Usually this material contains between 10-15% water.

Soft capsules can contain pigments or dyes, opaque materials such as Titanium dioxide, preservatives, fragrances, and sweeteners / 5% sucrose.

The purpose of the use of dyes in the syrup is to provide an attractive appearance and to distinguish a preparation with other preparations.

Commonly used dye is FD & C dyes and D & C dye. The dye is added to the syrup is adjusted to the essence that is added, for example:
  • medicinal syrup with orange flavor, add a yellow or orange dye
  • medicinal syrup with mint flavor, add a white dye.