Over the years, the growth of the pharmaceutical industry has also driven the development and evolution of capsules as a medicine delivery method. By allowing patients to take medicine orally has made this field of medical treatment much less invasive than giving subjects needles and/or suppositories, thereby making capsules a highly popular option among the general public. Wondering how this vehicle came about in the first place? This article will uncover secret history of capsules.
Early on in the 19th century, pharmacists were faced with an annoying problem. They had medication on their counters that would help improve the lives of the patients that they were treating. However, many were neglecting to follow through with their treatment protocol, as taking the substances prescribed was an exercise in torture. The taste and texture in the mouth were simply abhorrent, and pairing it with honey or sugar (a la Mary Poppins) didn't seem to help. In a bid to solve this problem, Mothes and Dublanc came up with the first empty gel cap in history in 1835. Gelatin capsules, also known as gel capsules, enabled the sometimes noxious drugs to be shielded from the taste buds in the mouth, permitting patients to swallow the agent without the hassle that usually ensued when the time came to take it. The first empty capsules were in one piece, filled via a hole that was then sealed by gelatin from the outside. Hard gelatin two piece empty capsules followed in 1847, allowing production of medicine to become easier still, with the insertion of medicinal agents being as simple as pouring them in one half, and snapping it together with the second half.
As with any innovation, they either evolve with the way society is moving, or they risk being swept into the dustbin of obsolescence. Capsules are no different, as they faced resistance in the 20th and 21st century from those becoming concerned of their consumption of animal products. Vegetarians and vegans, having rid flesh and animal products from their diet, turned their attention to the medicine that some of them were taking. Realizing that the gelatin in their capsules were made from animal sources, they demanded another way to deliver the herbal, vitamin, and drug products that they otherwise had no choice but to take through an animal product. Empty vegetable capsules, also known as empty vegetarian capsules bridged this gap, as this new iteration of drug delivery was made of hypromellose, which was synthesized from cellulose, a compound found in most plants.