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Enteric-Coated Capsules Vs. Regular Gelatin Capsules: A Comparison

Jun. 16, 2023

Enteric-coated capsules and regular gelatin capsules are two common forms of oral drug delivery systems. While both types of capsules serve the purpose of encapsulating medications, they differ in their composition, functionality, and applications. In this article, we will compare enteric-coated capsules and regular gelatin capsules in terms of their characteristics, benefits, and specific use cases.



Regular gelatin capsules are made of gelatin, a protein derived from animal sources such as bovine or porcine skin and bones. Gelatin capsules are known for their ability to dissolve quickly in the stomach, releasing the medication for absorption.


Enteric-coated capsules, on the other hand, consist of a gelatin or vegetarian-based shell that is further coated with an enteric polymer. The enteric coating is typically composed of cellulose derivatives or acrylic-based polymers. This coating prevents the capsule from dissolving in the stomach acid, allowing it to pass through the stomach and release the medication in the intestines.



Regular gelatin capsules are designed to disintegrate rapidly in the stomach, facilitating the release and absorption of the medication. They are suitable for drugs that are stable in the stomach's acidic environment or those that require immediate release.


Enteric-coated capsules, as the name suggests, are specifically formulated to resist dissolution in the stomach. The enteric coating protects the medication from the stomach acid and enzymatic degradation, ensuring that it reaches the intestines before it is released. This delayed release mechanism is particularly useful for medications that are sensitive to stomach acid, irritating to the stomach lining, or require targeted release in the intestines.


Enteric-coated empty gelatin capsules


1. Gastrointestinal Protection: Enteric-coated capsules provide a protective barrier against stomach acid, reducing the risk of gastric irritation or degradation of medications that are sensitive to stomach pH.


2. Targeted Release: Enteric-coated capsules allow for specific release of the medication in the intestines, where absorption is optimal for certain drugs or when it is necessary to bypass the stomach.


3. Improved Drug Stability: Enteric coating can enhance the stability of certain medications that may degrade in the acidic environment of the stomach, ensuring their potency until they reach the intestines.


4. Reduced Side Effects: By preventing the medication from being released in the stomach, enteric-coated capsules can minimize potential side effects associated with stomach irritation or discomfort.


5. Enhanced Therapeutic Effect: Enteric-coated capsules can optimize the therapeutic effect of certain medications by delivering them to the intended site of action in the gastrointestinal tract.


Use Cases:

Regular gelatin capsules are commonly used for a wide range of medications, including immediate-release formulations, dietary supplements, and herbal products. They are suitable for medications that do not require protection from stomach acid and are designed to be absorbed in the stomach or upper gastrointestinal tract.


Enteric-coated capsules are specifically used for medications that are sensitive to stomach acid, irritate the stomach lining, or require targeted delivery in the intestines. They are often utilized for enteric delivery of drugs such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), and certain antibiotics. Enteric-coated capsules are also beneficial for medications that need to be protected from stomach acid to maintain their effectiveness.



Regular gelatin capsules may not be suitable for medications that are sensitive to stomach acid or require delayed or targeted release in the intestines. They dissolve rapidly in the stomach, limiting their use for medications that require protection or specialized release profiles.


Enteric-coated capsules, while providing targeted release, may present challenges in terms of manufacturing complexity and cost. The enteric coating process adds an additional step to capsule production, increasing production time and cost compared to regular gelatin capsules.



Enteric-coated empty gelatin capsules and regular gelatin capsules offer distinct advantages and applications in oral drug delivery. Regular gelatin capsules are suitable for immediate-release medications, while enteric-coated capsules provide protection from stomach acid and targeted release in the intestines. The choice between the two depends on the specific properties of the medication, the desired release profile, and the therapeutic goals. Pharmaceutical manufacturers, in consultation with healthcare professionals, carefully select the appropriate capsule type to ensure optimal drug delivery and patient outcomes.

Enteric-coated empty gelatin capsules

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