Tablets are a popular choice for medication administration due to their convenience, portability, and ease-of-use. However, one concern many have is whether or not their tablets will remain hard enough to withstand the rigors of everyday life. The answer may lie in the addition of binders, which are substances that help make pills more compact and durable.

What are binders?

Binders are substances used to hold other ingredients together. In tablet formulations, they are usually added to increase hardness and reduce friability (the tendency of a tablet to break easily). They can also help improve the stability and absorption of certain active ingredients. Common binders include cellulose derivatives such as microcrystalline cellulose, polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP), hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), starch derivatives such as pregelatinized starch, and polymers such as polyethylene glycol (PEG) and polyacrylic acid (PAA).

Do binders increase tablet hardness?

The short answer is yes, but it depends on the binder used. For example, HPMC has been shown to increase hardness compared to other commonly used excipients such as PVP and povidone. In addition, some studies have shown that HPMC can significantly reduce the rate at which a tablet disintegrates in water – making it more resistant to environmental factors such as temperature changes or mechanical stresses associated with shipping or storage.

Benefits of using a binder

Using a binder has several potential benefits beyond simply increasing the hardness of the tablet. For example, HPMC can help reduce powdering or dusting during compression – meaning fewer tablets are rejected due to poor quality or appearance. In addition, certain binders, such as PEG, can act as lubricants – reducing the time required for tablets to pass through manufacturing processes such as granulation or weighing. Finally, some binders have been found to improve taste-masking properties – helping to make unpleasant medicines easier to take without compromising efficacy.

Types of tablets that benefit from binders

The addition of a binder to tablet formulations can be beneficial for both immediate release (IR) and extended-release (ER) tablets; however, those designed for ER administration often benefit more from increased hardness as these medications are typically taken over a period of time rather than all at once as with IR tablets. As mentioned above, some common types of excipients that may be useful in these applications include HPMC and PEG among others, depending on the specific application requirements and desired results from their addition to the formulation process.

Are there any risks associated with adding excipients to tablets?

While there are many potential benefits associated with the addition of excipients to tablet formulations, there are also risks that should be considered before doing so, including compatibility issues between different active ingredients contained within the formulation, interactions between the excipients themselves, changes in bioavailability, increases in size/weight associated with physical properties etc. etc. In addition, when using certain types of excipients, care must be taken to ensure that they do not interfere with disintegration times, which could lead to dissolution problems if too much is added to a particular formulation.


In conclusion, while most pharmaceutical products require some form of excipient to achieve optimum performance, there is still considerable debate as to how much should actually be incorporated and which type is best suited to a particular application. Ultimately, the selection process comes down to individual preferences and the goals of each product, but understanding the role that plays will help to make better informed decisions about how to add them to achieve the desired end result.


Chris Harrison is a content writer and editor from New Caledonia. He is currently managing Oneunionone which is based in North Carolino. Before founding the website, he was a full time editor in New York USA.