What is Capsule Made From?

Jul 14, 2007

Do you ever questioned what is the compound used to make the capsule? Well, I have been in pharmaceutical industry for 4 years & I never ask. Er... Either I'm too blunt or I'm too smart till I asummed that I knew it.

Recently, our team has been assigned to handle HIV drug. Then I came to know that this V drug capsule was made from porcine (pork gelatin haram), which it is unacceptable to most Muslim consumers. According to most of the pharmacist, many Muslim consumers prefer tablets rather than gelatin capsules.

Gelatin has long been the substance that capsules are made from. The main source of gelatin is collagen, which is found in the skin and bones of animals. Most of the softgel capsules on the market are made from an animal source; bovine (from beef/cows), porcine (pork/pigs) & ovine (lamb/sheep). For the Indian market, in which Hindus shun bovine products & Muslims shun porcine products, non-gelatin capsules are a natural fit. That is why more recently, vegetable-based capsules have become a preferred form.

As Bovine are derived from cows, so it carries the risk of “mad cow disease”, a degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system (brain and spine) of cattle. While for the vegetable-based capsules, it can be manufactured at much higher temperatures than their animal-based counterparts, & accept a much wider pH range than the 2 to 7 pH range commonly used. However, the challenge with this vegetable-based capsules is that they tend to stick together as they are made, and may lack the luster of other capsules.
So, Muslims take bovine, Hindus take porcine, vegetarians take vegetable-based capsules & the rest who are not fall into this 3 categories, may consume any one of it. But a question to pounder. If you are seriously ill & it left the only choice, what would be your choice of medication then? ;-)