What is the importance of dosage forms

powderDosage forms Powders consist of fine, solid and dry particles. They can contain one or more active ingredients and various auxiliary substances such as sweeteners, flavorings and preservatives. On the one hand, powders are a form of administration in their own right, but in pharmacy they mainly play a central role as starting materials for the manufacture of other medicinal forms.

synonymous: Pulveres, Pulvis, Plv, Powder


Many pharmaceuticals as well as medical products, chemicals and food supplements are available in powder form, for example pain relievers, inhalation preparations (powder inhalers), vitamins and minerals, salts, base powders, probiotics, cold medicines and laxatives. In contrast to the past, powders have lost their importance as a medicinal form, but are still used regularly.

Structure and properties

Powders consist of solid, loose, dry and more or less fine particles (particles) with a different shape, size and structure. They can be made, for example, with a powder grinder, with freeze-drying, by crystallization or with a mortar and pestle. They are finer than the granules, which are made up of powder agglomerates.

A distinction is made between simple and compound (mixed) powders. Powders can contain one or more active ingredients and auxiliaries.

The auxiliary materials include, for example:

The production of powder mixtures and powder dilutions is referred to in pharmacy as powder trituration (trituration).

The pharmacopoeia differentiates between many different types of powder, for example powder for oral use, for cutaneous use, for the manufacture of infusion preparations and for inhalation (selection).

Powders are available in single doses, for example in paper bags or in multi-dose containers (e.g. can).

In pharmacy they are mainly used as Raw materials is of great importance for the production of other dosage forms. These include granules, tablets, capsules, suspensions, solutions, syrups, pastes, eye drops as well as infusion and injection preparations. The reason is that many active ingredients and auxiliaries are available as powders. As a separate dosage form, they are less important today than in the past.


  • Powder + powder → powder mixture → granules → tablets
  • Powder + water → suspension or solution
  • Powder + ointment base → paste
application areas

Powders are commercially available for numerous areas of application (see above). They can be used internally or externally.


Oral powders are usually taken with water or another liquid. This can create a solution or suspension that must be shaken before use. Direct powder is poured directly into the mouth from a small sachet without water.


Powders are more stable than liquid dosage forms because they do not contain water. Powders for internal use are beneficial for patients with swallowing problems, for example for the elderly and for children.

As a result of the dissolution process, the active ingredients are already dissolved after preparation and can possibly be absorbed more quickly.

Powders can be dosed flexibly - a smaller or larger amount can be measured.


In contrast to other medicinal forms such as tablets, many powders require a preparation step, provided they are not direct powder. To do this, the powder has to be mixed with water, for example.

Powders can be spilled more easily and, due to the small particle size, get into the lungs, where they can cause undesirable effects. Some powders can also explode if finely dispersed in air and exposed to a source of ignition.

Powders generally have poorer flow properties than granulates. The flow behavior can be improved with lubricants.

For example, for dosing from a multi-dose container, a spoon is required for measuring.

Powders can absorb moisture and other substances and form aggregates (caking). They should therefore be protected from moisture and stored well closed.

see also

Granules, tablets, effervescent powder

  • Medicinal product information (CH)
  • European Pharmacopoeia PhEur
  • Specialist literature
  • Pharmaceutical technology manuals
  • Pharmacy Lexicons

Conflicts of Interest: None / Independent. The author has no relationships with the manufacturers and is not involved in the sale of the products mentioned.

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This article was last changed on 1.8.2020.
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