Designing and manufacturing pharmaceutical tablets is a daunting process. Where’s a good place to start? Here are six factors to consider when designing and manufacturing a high-quality, profitable product in the tablet manufacturing industry.
There are six crucial considerations to keep in mind when designing and manufacturing pharmaceutical tablets:
First, consider your pharmaceutical tablet shape and size. According to the FDA, about 16 million people in the U.S. have difficulty swallowing, so it’s essential to keep your tablets small in size and round or flat in shape. Round or flat tablets that are 8 millimeters or smaller in their larger dimensions are typically given more flexibility, making it easier for the end user to swallow.
Tablet color is about aesthetic appeal. How a patient feels about taking their medication is highly influenced by the color of the tablet. Studies show that different colors align with specific emotions. For example, white, pink, and yellow tablets typically spark a feeling of safety, while red pigments used in tablets can be viewed as powerful or dangerous. Some manufacturers choose tablet coating colors based on gender, age, and the time of day the medication should be consumed. Patients associate dark-colored tablets with nighttime and light-colored tablets with daytime. One example of choosing tablet color based on day vs. night consumption is cold remedies; lighter coloring agents are used for daytime, and darker coloring agents are used for nighttime.
Tablet coating makes pharmaceutical drugs in solid dosage form more effective and easier to ingest. Tablet coatings have the same general functions, such as masking the odor and taste and protecting shelf life, but there are several types of coating materials you should consider when designing and manufacturing your pharmaceutical tablets:
- Sugar coating: Masks medication taste and gives your tablets an attractive color
- Film coating: Involves spraying solutions that include polymer, pigments, and plasticizer into a rotating tablet bed
- Active drug layering: Deposits the drug on the substrate’s surface
- Extended release: Uses a polymer applied to the oral medication to protect the drug from stomach acid, ensuring that the drug takes full effect
Choosing a suitable tablet coating depends on your product’s shape and size. Be sure to select an appropriate shape and size for your tablets before choosing a coating method.
A proper tablet design allows your product to break seamlessly and accurately, ensuring that the required dosage form tolerance is achieved. If tablet breaklines are uneven, administered dose fluctuations can occur.
Consider the following factors when choosing an appropriate tablet breakline for your product:
- Breakage accuracy for equal dosing
- Ease of breakage related to tablet size and hardness
- Logo placement and its effect on breaklines
- Tablet strength during compression and coating
Your tablet breaklines should penetrate the tablet while maintaining an optimal radius and angle. Tablets with larger radiuses make breaklines less effective. To ensure that breaklines are functional and present on both sides of your tablets, check the breakline alignment on your tablet press’s upper and lower punch tips.
Tablet shapes and profiles are more complex in the modern pharmaceutical industry. As designing and manufacturing pharmaceutical tablets becomes more complicated, tooling performance factors like strength and durability must improve to maintain tablet quality.
The blended land is one of the most significant features of a proper tablet design that improves tooling performance. It’s common for tablet manufacturers not to apply land to their finished tablets, fearing that it may not be visually appealing. However, if tablet lands are applied correctly, they optimize tablet tooling strength and performance. To apply a land accurately, ensure that the flat area on your punch tip edge is maintained during intersection blending between the profile and flat, applying a radius to the finished punch tip. Precise blended lands improve your overall tooling performance and tablet appearance.
When considering your product’s branding, it’s crucial to think about font type and logos. Logo designs and typefaces should align with the tablet’s functionality while distinguishing your product from competitors.
Logo placement is also an important factor to consider. You should aim to maximize your tablet’s face area to avoid defects and improve brand distinction. Define your product’s safe zone early based on tablet shape to ensure that embossing doesn’t go beyond the safe zone.
Choosing a distinct font style that doesn’t cause tablet manufacturing problems is an important part of the branding process. Picking is a common problem due to selecting a font style with sharp corners. Design a font style with large, open counters or islands and round corners that act as a granule trap to reduce the risk of picking.
Counterfeiting is becoming more popular in the pharmaceutical industry. As technology advances, basic tablet designs are easily recreated. You can apply anti-counterfeiting techniques to your designs to make counterfeiting more challenging.
Examples of these techniques include:
- Altering embossing thickness
- Adjusting lettering angles
- Placing your logo on different inclines
Counterfeit tablets can be challenging to see with the naked eye, but expert designers can distinguish between branded products and counterfeits.
At Thomas Processing, our team of experts is familiar with a wide range of challenges in the designing and manufacturing of pharmaceutical tablets. We know how to solve the most common problems and improve your tablet manufacturing process, from fixing defects like sticking and picking to addressing issues with scaling up. Once you have the perfect design and manufacturing process in place, you can get a high-quality, uniform coating solution with our line of continuous coating systems. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help with designing and manufacturing your pharmaceutical tablets.