Dosage forms of medicines


There are different dosage forms of medicines. For example, which is most appropriate depends on where or how fast the drug is to be released or for whom the drug is primarily intended (e.g., the elderly, children).

Swallow - tablets & Co.

Tablets consist of the active ingredient and excipients, which are pressed and swallowed in powdered form. They dissolve in the stomach and release the active ingredient. There are many different forms of tablets, for example, chewing, sucking, effervescent or film-coated tablets. In most cases, it is important to take tablets with enough fluid. The guideline is a glass of water.

"Film-coated tablets

Film-coated tablets are compacts with a hardened and very smooth surface. They are easier to swallow and "slip" better.


Dragees have a smooth, hard shell of sugar, which is said to facilitate swallowing. In the dragee core is the active ingredient, in the shell layer substances that are to make a good taste.

"Extended-Release Tablets

"Retard" means "delayed". Certain excipients in prolonged-release tablets thus ensure that the tablets dissolve in the stomach with a delay and release the active ingredient over a longer period of time. In addition, it is sufficient in some cases, the single intake per day.

Example: Painkillers that are supposed to work over a longer period of time.

"effervescent tablets

Effervescent tablets dissolve in water bubbling. With the liquid, the drug quickly enters the small intestine, and the effect begins quickly. Many people find the intake of dissolved effervescent tablets more pleasant than swallowing whole tablets.

Examples: headaches, calcium or magnesium supplements.


The shell of a capsule consists of gelatin, the active ingredient is contained either as a powder or granules (hard gelatin capsules) or as a liquid (soft gelatin capsules). Capsules first dissolve in the stomach and release the active ingredient there.

"Chewable Tablets

This type of tablet is chewed and swallowed. The active ingredient is partially released in the mouth and absorbed through the oral mucosa. The rest reaches the stomach. The advantage of chewing tablets is that the active ingredient is absorbed quickly, and the effect starts quickly. Certain excipients make the chewable tablets taste good.


Lozenges are kept in the mouth until they are completely dissolved - they are not swallowed. The active ingredient develops its effect even in the mouth and throat.

Examples: cold and throat pills.


Granules are caked powder particles, which are either processed into tablets or sold as granules (drinking granules, powdered granules for oral use without liquid).

Examples: Some painkillers, healing teas.

Solutions - Juice & Co.

A solution is a liquid drug that contains the active ingredient in dissolved form. Examples are syrup (cough syrup) or oral juice, eye, nose or ear drops and sprays.

"Juice / syrup

Juices are often used in children. The added adjuvants provide a taste that even small patients like. Even unpleasant medicines can be administered so easily.

Examples: cough syrup or as a viscous version of the cough syrup.


Drops (solutions, suspensions) are taken or dripped into the eyes, ears or nose. Orally administered drops do not have to dissolve in the stomach - the effect is therefore very fast.

Examples: eye drops for allergy sufferers, cough drops.

"Aerosols (sprays)

These are active ingredient solutions or suspensions which are located in propellant-containing atomizers or pump atomizers. Delivered is a precisely metered amount of active ingredient.

Examples: nasal spray on swollen nasal membranes, inhalation sprays for asthmatics.

Skin - Creams & Co.


Creams are water-in-oil (W / O) or oil-in-water (O / W) mixtures. They adhere to the skin for a relatively long time, slowly release the active ingredient and grease the skin.

Examples: urea creams for atopic dermatitis, warming creams for muscle tension.


An emulsion is (like a cream) a water-in-oil (W / O) or oil-in-water (O / W) mixture, but more fluid. It is easier to spread on the skin than the tougher cream.


Pastes are the toughest variants of creams or ointments. They have a very high fat content. It is used as a protective layer for the skin.


Ointments do not contain water, unlike creams or emulsions. They are applied to the skin or mucous membrane where they stick longer than creams or emulsions. Ointments gradually release the active ingredient.


Gels consist of a liquid and a "gelling agent" - the active ingredients are contained in the liquid. Gels are often used against itching or as a "coolant".

Examples: gels for sunburn and insect bites.

"Plasters (Transdermal Therapeutic Systems)

Transdermal means "through the skin". The active ingredient is in the patch, which is glued to the skin. He gradually penetrates through the skin into the body.

Examples: contraceptive patches, pain plasters.

Other dosage forms

"Injections / infusions

Injections and infusions are liquid medications in which the active substance in the fluid is either dissolved or suspended (finest particles float in a solution). In the case of injections, the drug is injected under the skin (subcutaneously, s.c.), into a muscle (intramuscular, i.m.) or into a vein (intravenously, i.v.). If administered via a drip, it is called an infusion. The drug drips slowly into the body, usually via the vein (intravenously), less often into the subcutaneous tissue (subcutaneously).

Injections and infusions do not have to be absorbed into the gastrointestinal tract and metabolised. Thus, the active ingredient quickly reaches the desired location, and its effect usually sets in quickly.

Examples: insulin, vaccines.

"Suppositories (Suppositories)

Suppositories are pushed into the intestine or vagina. The passage through the stomach, intestine and liver is thus bypassed. This dosage form is particularly suitable for small patients: many babies and small children are more likely to introduce a suppository than administer a tablet.

At room temperature suppositories are firm, at body temperature they melt and release the active ingredient.

Examples: antipyretic suppositories for children, vaginal suppositories.