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Industries:  Pharmaceutical 

HPMC Capsules - A Viable Alternative to Gelatin Capsules


By: Kirti Vatsa
Senior Research Analyst, CMO Formulations and Drug Delivery devices

calender17 Aug 2016



Demand for capsules has been on rise for encapsulating solid oral dosage forms due to its reduced time to market, preferred choice for filling liquids or semi-solids. In 2014, around 10%-15% FDA approved drugs were launched in capsules as against 5% in 2007. Gelatin capsules have been the preferred choice of capsule shells in the pharmaceutical industry and would continue to be in the future, with a marginal decline in demand by 2% until 2019. Factors such as BSE/TSE risks (animal origin), fluctuating gelatin prices, consumer preference towards vegetarian capsules along with technical difficulties using gelatin capsules, has led to the demand for its alternatives i.e. Hydroxy Propyl Methyl Cellulose (HPMC) capsules and other vegetarian capsules (such as pullulan and starch). HPMC capsules offer technical benefits such as low moisture content, lack of crosslinking, and its chemical stability that make it a perfect choice in near future.

2.  Main

This whitepaper explores the current and future market potential of HPMC capsules and would assess the  possible shift from gelatin to HPMC capsules. It would also assess the current challenges in the HPMC capsules and how industry is responding to it.

3.  Recommendation

Most of the molecules in the clinical trial have bioavailability issues. Hence pharma companies are looking for effective technologies to deliver the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API).  Though gelatin capsules are expected to maintain its dominance in the overall capsules segment, however, constraints with gelatin capsule such as crosslinking reactions, high moisture content, changing consumer preference towards vegetarian products and fluctuating gelatin prices would make pharmaceutical or nutraceutical buyers shift towards HPMC based capsules in their new drug products.

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