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List of Pharmaceutical Excipients/Additives and Their Uses Enlisted

List of Pharmaceutical Excipients/Additives and their uses enlisted

Pharmaceutical excipients or additives are the basic part of pharmaceutical product development. It helps to achieve the desired product profile include stability and efficacy.
They are added to increase bulk, aid manufacturing, and improved stability, enhance drug delivery and targeting and modify drug safety or pharmacokinetic profile.


These excipients are fillers designed to make up the required bulk of the tablet formulation.
  • Lactose.
  • Spray dried lactose.
  • Starch.
  • Microcrystalline cellulose.
  • Dextrose.
  • Sucrose.


These are additives material added either dry or in liquid form to increase the cohesiveness of the powders.
  • Acacia.
  • Methyl cellulose.
  • Gelatin.
  • PVP.
  • Starch paste.
  • Tragacanth.

Disintegrating Agents

These additives facilitate the breaking of the tablet when it comes in contact with water in GIT.
  • Starch.
  • Clays.
  • Explotab.


This agents reduce the friction during the tablet ejection between the walls of tablet and die cavity.
  • Stearic acid.
  • Sodium stearate.
  • Magnesium stearate.
  • Talc.
  • Poly ethylene glycols.
  • Mineral oil.


These promote flow of tablet granules by reducing the friction between the particles.
  • Talc.
  • Corn starch.
  • Silica derivatives.

Sweetening Agents

These additives impart sweet taste to the preparations.
  • Sucrose.
  • Glycerine.
  • Glucose.
  • Sorbitol.
  • Sodium saccharin.
  • Aspartame.
  • Cyclamate.


Chemical agents added to formulation to prevent the growth of microbes and increase the shelf life.
  • Phenol.
  • Methyl paraben.
  • Propyl paraben.
  • Sodium benzoate.
  • Chlorocresol.
  • Thiomersal.
  • Phenyl mercuric nitrate.
  • Cetrimide.


Agents which prevent the oxidation of formulation and stabilize the preparations.
  • Gallic acid.
  • Tocopherol.
  • Ascorbyl palmitate.
  • Butylated hydroxy anisole.

Enteric coating materials

Enteric coating materials are used in enteric coating of tablets.
  • Cellulose acetate phthalate.
  • Acrylate polymer.
  • Hydroxy propyl methyl cellulose pthalate.
  • Polyvinyl acetate pthalate.

Film Formers

These are polymeric materials used in tablet coating.
  • Hydroxy methyl cellulose.
  • Ethyl cellulose.
  • HPC, MHEC.
  • Povidone.
  • Sodium CMC.
  • Polyethylene glycol.
  • Methyl acrylate.


Plasticizer modify the quality of film.
  • Castor oil.
  • Propylene glycol.
  • Glycerine.
  • Polysorbates.
  • Miricyl palmitate.

Flavoring Agents

Flavoring agent increases the elegance by stimulating the sensations to flavour.
  • Menthol
  • Peppermint oil.
  • Clove oil.
  • Ginger oil.
  • Rose oil.
  • Sandal wood oil.
  • Jasmine oil.
  • Chloroform.
  • Vanillin.

Viscosifying Agents

Viscosifying agent increases the viscosity of the liquid preparations.
  • Methyl cellulose.
  • Sodium CMC.
  • Tragacanth.

Suspending Agents

  • Methyl cellulose.
  • Kaolin.
  • Gelatin.
  • HPMC.
  • Carbopol.

Emulsifying Agents

Substances which forms a film around the dispersed globules or lowers the interfacial tension in an emulsion.
Natural– Acacia, Tragacanth, Agar.
Semisynthetic– Methyl cellulose, Carboxy methyl cellulose.
Clays– Bentonite.
Surfactants– Sodium lauryl sulphate, Cetrimide, Spans.

Wetting Agents

Substances which lower the advancing contact angle and aids in spreading the powder in the aqueous phase by replacing the air.
Surfactant – Sodium lauryl sulphate.

Flocculating Agents

Flocculating agent modifies the zeta potential of particles to induce the flocculation in suspension formulation.
  • Aluminium chloride.
  • Electrolytes.


Substances which tends to decrease the surface of interfacial tension of two liquids.
According to their ionic behavior.
1. Anionic
Alkali metal & ammonium soaps: Sodium oleate.
Soaps of divalent metals: Ca. stearate.
Amino soaps: Triethaloamine oleate.
Alkyl sulphates: Sodium lauryl suphate.
2. Cationic
Cetrimide, C.T.P.B.
3. Nonionic
Glyceryl ester: Glyceryl monostearate.
SPANS: Sorbitan esters of fatty acids.
TWEENS: Polyoxythylene sorbitans.
Macrogols: Polyethylene glycols.
Macrogol ethers: Cetomacrogol.
4. Amphoteric

Antifoaming Agents

Substances added to prevent or counter the foam generation in the formulation.
  • Cetostearyl alcohol.
  • Castor oil.
  • Silicon derivatives.
  • Alcohol & Ether.


Propellants helps to develop proper pressure within the container and expels the products in the forms of vapour in the formulation of aerosols.
Fluorocarbons: Trichloromonoflourmethane, Dicholorodiflouromethane.
Hydrocarbons: Propane, Butane, Isobutane.
Inert gases: Nitrogen, NO2, CO2.


Solvents are used as a vehicle in the formulation of liquids.
Aqueous: Water for injection, Purified water.
Non-Aqueous: Polyethylene glycol, Propylene glycol, Vegetable oils.

Sequestering Agents

Substances added to bind, in non-ionizable forms the trace amounts of heavy metals to prevent catalytic degradation in formulations.
  • Disodium EDTA.

Buffering Agents

Substances added to maintain the required pH in the formulations:
  • Citric acid and sodium citrate buffer.
  • Boric acid and sodium borate buffer.

Tonicity Modifiers

These are agents used to adjust the osmotic pressure of the solution with that of plasma.
  • Sodium chloride.
  • Dextrose.
  • Mannitol.


These excipients are substances of high molecular weight colloidal dimension which in water produce highly viscous solutions in even at small contents.
Natural: Agar, Acacia, Tragacanth, Gelatin.
Semisynthetic: Methylcellulose, HMC, CMC.
Synthetic: Carbopol, Polyox.

These excipients are fluid or semisolid substances that work as a vehicle for the medicament in ointments.
Hydrocarbon bases: Soft paraffin, Liquid Paraffin.
Absorption bases: Woolfat, Beeswax, Lanolin.
Emulsifying bases: Emulsifying Ointment.
Water soluble bases: PEG, Macrogols.

Suppository Bases

These are fluid or semisolid substances used as a vehicle in the formulation of suppositories.
Oil bases: Theobroma oil, Hydrogenated oils.
Aqueous bases: Glycerogelatin, Macrogols.
Emulsifying bases: Massesterin, Witepsol, Massupol.


Inert substances which hold the water on its surface.
  • Bentonite.
  • Magnesium oxide.
  • Magnesium carbonate.
  • Starch.

True Antioxidants

True antioxidants are thought to blockchain reactions by reacting with free radicals, thus the period of induction of the autoxidation reaction is prolonged, but are not effective in reversible oxidation reactions.
  • Acetylcysteine.
  • Alpha-tocopherol acetate.
  • Ascorbyl palmitate.
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA).
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).
  • Cysteine.
  • Delta tocopherol.
  • Dithiothreitol.
  • Dodecyl gallate.
  • Ethyl gallate.
  • Gamma tocopherol.
  • Glutathione.
  • NDGA.
  • Octyl gallate.
  • Propyl gallate.
  • Thiolactic acid.
  • Thiosorbitol.

Reducing Agents

Reducing agents are substances that have a lower redox potential than the drug or adjuvant that they are intended to protect against oxidation. Thus reducing agents are more readily oxidized than the drug or adjuvant and are effective in the presence of oxidizing agents. These are also effective in blocking chain reactions that take place in autoxidation.
  • Calcium ascorbate.
  • Calcium bisulphite.
  • Calcium sulphite.
  • Isoascorbic acid.
  • Potassium metabisulphite.
  • Sodium ascorbate.
  • Sodium bisulphite.
  • Sodium formaldehyde sulphoxylate.
  • Sodium metabisulphite.
  • Sodium sulphite.
  • Sodium thiosulphate.
  • Sulphur dioxide.
  • Thioglycerol.

Antioxidant Synergists

Antioxidant synergists are substances that enhance appreciably the effects of antioxidants although if used alone most synergists have little antioxidant activity.
  • Citric acid.
  • Sodium EDTA.
  • Hydroxyquinoline sulphate.
  • Phosphoric acid.
  • Sodium citrate.
  • Tartaric acid.

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