From ArticleWorld

A tablet is a small round, disc-shaped or oval-shaped medicine delivery system that is made by mixing medication with binding agents and pressing them into a specific shape. Some tablets are creatively shaped. For example, the branded pill of Valium is roughly disc-shaped with a “V” cut out of the middle.


Before the ability to make tablets existed, doctors used medications in solution, syrups or powders. Herbs and other natural products were often used as well in dried, crushed or fresh form. In the 20th century, both tablets and capsules were mass produced for patient use. In 1982, a bioterrorist laced multiple capsules of Tylenol with cyanide, leading to a marked reduction in consumers’ willingness to buy medications in capsule form. The companies making capsules responded by creating tablets in the shape of capsules. Such tablets are termed “caplets”.


Manufacturers of tablets begin with a dry product that is powdered and of uniform grain size. While some medicines are made into tablets as pure ingredients, most must be bound to an inactive ingredient or “binder” to help give the tablet some strength and durability. The makers often put a disintegrant into the product that allows for quick dissolving of the tablet once swallowed. Small amounts of lubricant are included to help the tablet release from the mold after pressing. Molded tablets are then often coated.

Unique Tablets

Some tablets are made to function in special ways. Enteric coated tablets are acid-resistant so that the tablet protects the medicine beneath the coating until it dissolves later in the intestines. Other tablets are made with an inner core that dissolves more slowly than an outer core, allowing the tablet to have a 2-phase absorption profile so that the medicine lasts longer.

Another unique way to prolong the activity of a tablet is to imbed the medicine in a wax matrix that allows for gradual release of the product over time. The trend toward unique delivery systems in the making of tablets is increasing.