Pharmaceutical Agents

By: Aamarpali Puri

“Pharmaceutical Aids” or “Pharmaceutical Necessities” are the term used for the chemical substances have no therapeutic value but are must for the preparation of certain Tablets, Injections, Ointments and Cosmetics etc. Various types Pharmaceutical Aids are explained as follow:

  1. Antioxidants: These are mainly used to prevent rancidity of oils and fats through oxidation. These when added prevent microbial growth in various pharmaceutical products, cosmetics and food. Example: Sodium Sulphite, Butylated hydroxyl Toulene, Butylated hydroxynsaisole.
  2. Preservatives: These are bacteriostatic, bactericidal, antibacterial or antifungal in their action so act as antimicrobial preservatives. The help in preservation of Pharmaceutical products, cosmetics and food products. Example: Benzoic acid (antifungal), Cresol and Phenol (anti-infective agent), Chloroform and Propylparaben (anti-microbial agent), sodium benzoate (fungistatic agent)
  3. Colouring Agents: These subtstances are used in Pharmaceutical products to impart colour. They can be natural or synthetic colouring agents. Natural colouring agents include mineral colours (ferric oxide, titanium dioxide), chlorophyll, Beta Carotens etc. Synthetic dyes include Nitro dyes, Azodyes, Rosanilines etc.  The common colouring agents are Amaranth, Caramel, Cochineal, Erythrosin and Eosin.
  4. Flavouring Agents: These are mostly aromatic compounds which makes pharmaceutical product palatable. Essential oils and powders obtained from plants and minerals are used to give flavor to pharmaceutical product. Example: Benzaldehyde, Methyl salicylate and Vanilin.
  5. Sweetening Agents: Various Pharmaceutical Syrups, Beverages and Canned foods are sweetened with these agents. They improve taste and make it palatable. Example: Sucrose, Saccharin and Sorbitol etc.
  6. Emulsifying Agents: An emulsifying agent is an inert substance used to homogenize two immiscible phases by reducing surface tension. Example: Acacia, Agar, Bentonite, Carbomer, Gelatine and Povidone etc.
  7. Ointments base: Ointments are smooth semisolid substances applied to the skin externally. The ointment contains an inert base and medically active compound. The bases can be formed of the Arachis oil, Olive oil, Oleic acid, Spermaceti (Waxy substance obtained from head of Sperm Whale) , White bee wax, Wool fat and Wool alcohol etc.
  8. Diluents: When an active medical compound is to be administered in very small amount then diluents are added to increase the bulk. Example: Lactose, Starch and Sucrose etc.
  9. Binders: They bind the powdered medically active compound. The cohesive properties of these binders help in making tablets. Example: Mucilage and liquid Glucose.
  10. Disintegrating Agent: It facilitates breaking of tablets. Example: Starch.
  11. Lubricants: When tablet is prepared lubricants improve rate of flow. Example: Stearic acid, hydrogenated vegetable oil and Talc
  12. Coating: The surface coating of a tablet is formed of gelatin, and paraffin etc.
  13. Solvents: Other then water some organic liquids are used as solvents in pharmaceutical preparations. Example: Acetone (dissolves Fats and Resins), Dimethyl Sulphoxide (polar hygroscopic liquid), Ethanol (Preparation of tinctures and spirits) , Denatured spirit (Unfit for human consumption used for surface coating), Glycerol & Glycerine (used in creams, jellies, and pastes for his moisturizing properties), Propylene Glycol (Substitute of Glycerine), Isopropyl Alcohol (skin cleansing), Oils (Arachies and Sesame etc) and Ether (General purpose solvent in pharmaceutical industry.
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