Softgel encapsulation machines take medications and health supplements and package them into an easily digestible form. This makes these machines and the capsules they produce very popular among modern consumers and patients — especially those who may struggle with traditional forms of meds.
But how do these machines inform and influence the manufacturing process itself? To discover more about this, take a look at three key case studies examining how pharma and health supplement manufacturers have utilized this technology as they adapt to challenges in today’s market.
Case Study 1 – Moving From Solid to Liquid Doses
Ibuprofen is a medication that is suitable for managing mild to moderate instances of pain and has been used in this way for decades. Many patients rely on the benefits of ibuprofen medications, especially those who have arthritis or other chronic types of pain. However, the more traditional dry tablet form is not necessarily the best delivery method.
These pills can be hard to take and may be unpleasant for children and other users. In some instances, patients may find it almost impossible to take ibuprofen in pill form, leading pharmaceutical developers to seek other, more universal, delivery methods. For example, liquids are far easier for patients to take but are imperfect in the sense that it is difficult to standardize the dose for the patient. This is where gel cap machines can provide a real advantage.
Brands such as Nurofen offer liquid forms of ibuprofen to their customers, packaged in a softgel case. Using softgel capsule technology on a vast scale, these brands are able to deliver pain relief to those who need it, avoiding the difficulties associated with the solid tablet or pill form and the non-standardized liquid doses. In this sense, softgel capsule machines have revolutionized the pharmaceutical industry — even for over-the-counter, non-prescription meds.
Case Study 2 – Stabilising Ingredients and Increasing Shelf Life
Fish Oil Supplements
Fish oils provide a range of health advantages to users, including inflammation reduction, support for brain function, benefits to eyesight, and reduced instances of heart disease, to name just a few. However, similar to the case with ibuprofen listed above, many users do not enjoy taking fish oil supplements, so softgel capsules have become crucial in helping these users take their regular doses.
But softgel encapsulation machines actually do far more than this. They actively stabilize the ingredients within the capsule, significantly extending the shelf life of the product. This has made the softgel delivery method incredibly important to the health supplement market, giving companies the ability to develop products that can stay on the shelf and in customers’ medicine cabinets for longer. Furthermore, this extended longevity is achieved without impacting the efficacy or safety of the supplement.
In East Asian markets — such as in Japan, where mini-softgel fish oils are becoming extremely popular — this has changed the way users take supplements that have been part of traditional healthcare for centuries. However, the phenomenon is not limited to East Asia, and customers in the USA are also turning to softgel products as a viable delivery method for this kind of supplement.
This is particularly important with regard to fish oil supplements. There are many misconceptions about fish oils, especially regarding their smell and taste — fish oils are often considered to have a strong smell and a strong flavor, neither of which is particularly appealing for those who could benefit from their health advantages. In fact, this is only true when fish oil begins to degrade and becomes rancid, which is not only unpleasant but can be actively harmful to users. Softgel capsules help ensure that fish oil remains stable for longer, eliminating this risk as long as the supplement is used within the time indicated on the product’s packaging.
Case Study 3 – Increasing Bioavailability
When deciding how to develop and package a product, pharmaceutical companies must strike a careful balance. On the one hand, they need to make sure that the medication or supplement is easy for users to take, eliminating the anxiety and unpleasantness often associated with taking medicine. On the other, the product must be highly effective — the delivery method must not compromise or inhibit the active ingredients of the medication.
This is where concepts like bioavailability become very important indeed. Bioavailability refers to how much of a particular drug can be absorbed into the body and used for its intended purpose — for example, how much of the active ingredient of a pain med can be actively used by the body in managing and reducing pain. Using gel cap machines to package medication ready for delivery to the patient can make a big difference in this case.
Studies conducted regarding softgel melatonin capsules — used to help combat sleep disorders and other conditions — found that the softgel delivery method actually increased the bioavailability of the medication. The increased levels of bioavailability meant that patients using softgel capsules could take a smaller dose of melatonin than they would if they were taking the medication in powdered form and still achieve more exposure to the active ingredient itself. Pharmaceutical providers were then able to reduce costs and boost safety by providing smaller doses to their patients without limiting the positive effects of the medication.
Tests on other forms of medication have proved inconclusive thus far. Still, there is evidence to suggest that softgel capsules could support increased bioavailability across other types of drugs and supplements.
Ongoing Benefits for Medication and Health Supplement Consumers
While softgel capsules and gel cap machines are not suitable for the preparation of all types of medication, they are extremely useful for optimizing the delivery of many different meds and supplements, including those listed above. With softgel encapsulation machines, pharma and supplement producers can maximize bioavailability, streamline the delivery method, and achieve longer-lasting and more reliable products — benefits that are all passed directly on to the consumer.