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Classification of Dosage Forms - The Pharma Education

Introduction and Classification of Dosage Forms

Introduction and classification of dosage forms. Administration of drugs in pure form is usually difficult and undesirable. At the same time therapeutic considerations make it desirable that the drugs are not administered to the patients in their original form. In order to make a drug administrable to the patient, it is converted into a dosage forms by mixing it with some non-drug components (Excipients or Additives).
Read More about List of Excipients/Additives

The form in which drug substances are presented in the market are called the dosage forms.
A dosage form may be solid, semisolid, liquid or gas and contains a definite quantity of drug(s) along with or without excipients.
The same drug can be formulated in several dosage forms for presentation in the market.
E.g. Diclofenac gel, Diclofenac tablet, Diclofenac injection etc.

The need for dosage forms:

  • Accurate dose.
  • Protection e.g. coated tablets, sealed ampules.
  • Protection from gastric juice.
  • Masking the taste and odour.
  • Placement of drugs within body tissues.
  • Sustained and Controlled release medication.
  • Optimal drug action.
  • Insertion of drugs into body cavities (rectal, vaginal).
  • Use of desired vehicle for poorly soluble or insoluble drugs.

The desirable properties of a dosage form:

  • It should be convenient to handle, use and store.
  • For better patient compliance, it should not disturb his routine life cycle as for as possible and should be acceptable aesthetically, organoleptically, therapeutically and from economic standpoint.
  • It should be stable during storage (shelf-life) and use.
  • The physical, chemical and therapeutic integrity of the dosage form should be maintained during storage.
  • The dosage form should be free from interaction between components, with packaging materials and environmental factors (heat, humidity, oxygen, light).
  • It should also withstand mechanical shock during transportation.
  • The dosage form must retain its size, shape, appearance, taste, flavor and therapeutic effect during the stipulated shelf-life.
  • The dosage form should be presented in different drug strengths providing flexibility of dose to suit different age groups (e.g. 50, 100, 200, 500 mg tablet of the same drug) or for different disease conditions.
  • It should provide the anticipated therapeutic effect.
    The extent and drug release pattern, onset, intensity and duration of action should be predictable.
  • It should protect the drug substance and conceal the disagreeable taste or odour.
  • It should be economical and presentation should be elegant.
  • It should permit easy identification through distinct colour, shape or identification marking(s).

Classification of Dosage Forms

Dosage forms can be classified in many ways on the basis of their physical state, route of administration, intended purpose or site of application etc.
Physical state: Solid, Semisolid, Liquid, Gaseous.
Route of administration: Oral, Parenteral, Rectal, Nasal, Vaginal, Urethral etc.
Site of Application: Skin, Eye, Tooth, Hand, Foot, Hair, Nose.
Use: Internal, External.
However, classification based on physical state and route of administration are most commonly used.

Examples of Dosage Forms


  • Solid – Powders, Granules, Tablets, Capsules, Pills, Cachets etc.
  • Semisolid – Ointment, Cream, Suppositories, Paste etc.
  • Liquid – Solutions, Elixirs, Emulsions, Suspensions, Syrups, Spirits etc.
  • Gaseous – Inhalants, Aerosols etc.


  • Oral – Powders, Tablets, Capsules, Elixirs, Solutions, Emulsions, Syrups etc.
  • Parenteral – Solutions, Suspensions, Emulsions
  • Rectal – Suppositories, Enemas, Ointments
  • Transdermal – Ointments, Creams, Powders, Pastes, Lotions etc.
  • Intranasal – Solutions, Sprays, Inhalations
  • Vaginal – Suppositories, Tablets, Ointments, Creams etc.
  • Urethral – Suppositories
  • Sublingual – Tablets, Lozenges
  • Conjunctival – Ointments
  • Intraocular – Solutions, Suspensions, Ointments
  • Intrarespiratory – Aerosols


  • Skin – Lotion, Liniment, Cream, Powder etc.
  • Eye – Eye drop, Eye ointment etc.
  • Tooth – Tooth paste etc.
  • Foot – Foot powder etc.
  • Hair – Shampoo, Hair oil etc.
  • Nose – Nasal drops, etc.


  • Internal – Tablet, Capsules, Syrup etc.
  • External – Lotion, Liniment, Cream, Ointment etc.

Quick Links

Inactive Ingredient Search for Approved Drug Products
List of Additives