The use of gelatin in the manufacture of various pharmaceutical dosage forms dates back at least as far as the early 19th century.
Today, the commonly recognised dosage forms using gelatin are two-piece hard capsules, and soft elastic capsules known as ‘softgels’.
The manufacture of hard gelatin capsules consists of dipping stainless steel mould pins into a warm bath of gelatin solution, drying, stripping them from the pins, trimming the caps and bodies and joining them together for shipping. The hard capsules are then filled by pharmaceutical or health supplement companies with dosages of their products, usually in a dry form.
The soft gelatin process begins with the formation of two soft sheets of gelatin, each of which passes over a die of the desired capsule size and shape. As the capsule is formed, it is simultaneously filled with a liquid dosage of the pharmaceutical or health supplement product.
A further common use of gelatin in the health and pharmacy fields is in dosage by tablet. Here again, gelatin is an essential ingredient. It can be a binding agent for the dosage and a coating to reduce unpleasant taste and aroma. It also enables printing and colour for product identification.
The meltdown characteristic peculiar to gelatin often plays an important role in the gradual and timely release of medication. It is also used in the manufacture of suppositories, surgical sponges and bacterial growth media.
Gelatin is used in many cosmetic and health care products. It is an ingredient in face creams, body lotions, shampoos, hair sprays, sun screens and bath salts and bubbles.