Top 5 trends in the capsule world that are shaping the future

Top 5 trends in the capsule world that are shaping the future

Introduction

Capsules are set to create a $5.2 billion market by 2030; staging an over 100% expansion from its 2020 cap size of $2.4 billion.  

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The capsule world is buzzing with innovation today, much as any other healthcare subsector. The prospect of the capsule market is brighter even, teeming with rich opportunities for all stakeholder businesses. 

That is coming as an offshoot of recent advancements in technology and changing demands from an increasingly conscious and complex market, calling for newer products and process iterations. Thus, trends are set, brewing up the boom today, upon which you and your company should jump for better health and greater profit.  

Stay with us in this article as we reel out the trends and opportunities to follow or partake in for the big win! Here are the top 5 trends in the capsule world today and what to do about them. 

1. The Capsule Market Boom

The Capsule Market Boom

That is why capsules made the headline as you saw earlier. At a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9%, the capsule market is experiencing a boom that is expected to continue for years. Capsules have remained a top choice of dosage form for oral medication delivery, next only to tablets. Of the 22 new oral medications approved by the FDA in 2022, 10 were formulated as capsules, and 12 were tablets. 

Although recent years have seen a rise in the number of approvals for injectable biologics and potent chemical entities, these are not considered as convenient for use as oral formulations by patients. Encapsulation is of prime consideration when formulating many of these new chemical agents for oral administration, especially with the current improvements in capsule-filling technologies.  

Additionally, the remarkable flexibility of capsules in use and design, ease of access to both home and industrial users, and suitability for both human and veterinary applications are some other factors expanding the market share of empty capsules in the industry. 

Forecasts indicate increasing consumer preference for capsules and capsule supplies in the coming years. So, if you are a medication and supplement producer manufacturing capsules, you are in the right niche. Scaling and adjusting to market demands should be your next focus.  

2. Growing interest in HPMC capsules

Growing interest in HPMC capsules

Although gelatin capsules have ruled for decades in the formulation space with laudable performance, modern pressures may favor HPMC capsules in clinical formulations in the years to come. 

The plant-sourced vegetarian HPMC caps not only match hard gel caps' instability and drug release profile, but they also offer additional advantages in structural integrity and consumer satisfaction. 

HPMC capsules are better suited for hygroscopic and moisture-sensitive fill materials than gelatin capsules due to their lower moisture content. They are also tougher, more temperature tolerant, and importantly, meet dietary preferences and clean label demand of consumers who prefer animal-free products. 

Moreover, capsule manufacturers have ensured the availability of HPMC derivatives to meet varying consumer demands. Hence, for half a decade now, the majority of new drug substances launched as capsules are formulated as HPMC capsules. As a dietary supplement producer, talks about switching to HPMC capsules might get onto your table soonest.  

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3. Rising demands for modified-release solutions such as enteric and delayed-release capsules 

Delayed release capsules

With the growing global burden of chronic diseases that require long-term management, there is a need for patient-centric formulations that enhance medication use experience and compliance for patients. Modified-release forms such as enteric or delayed-release empty capsules are an oft-considered solution to this problem. 

The demand curve is shifting in this direction and is expected to continue in the future. According to Biospace, modified-release form accounted for about 42.3% of the total oral solid dosage form revenue in 2021– a significant rise compared to past years. 

Although more than half of these products are tablets currently, advancements in encapsulation techniques may claim a bigger proportion for capsules going forward. Modified-release capsules, e.g. acid-resistant and delayed-release capsules, are well-placed for pharmaceutical manufacturers dealing with drug products in this category.  

4. Drive for multicomponent capsules and pelletized dosage forms

Drive for multicomponent capsules and pelletized dosage forms

In another move to enhance the patient experience when taking multiple medications or supplements concurrently, there is a renewed interest in pelletization and multicomponent capsules in the industry. 

Pelletization involves the formulation of the ingredient mix into free-flowing particulate spheres, called pellets, which may be coated or uncoated. Pellets exhibit enhanced physical and dispositional characteristics than fine powders, including higher aesthetic appeal, less friability, inertness, and better flow. Due to their inertness, incompatible ingredients that may otherwise react if mixed as powders can be encased within a single empty capsule as pellets.  

Delivering a pelletized drug in a hard capsule offers the simplest means to achieve fixed-dose combinations (FDCs) of incompatible drugs without facing stability problems. FDCs are required to simplify drug use in the treatment of disease conditions and traditionally are formulated as tablets following extensive and costly stability studies. Using pellet-in-capsule delivery, a required FDC can be produced in a shorter time with lesser overall costs compared to tablets. 

Also, the value of the pelletized dose forms is growing in the nutraceutical space to combine liquids and semi-solids with solids within a single capsule. Pelletization foretells a continuous relevance in drug manufacturing, also influencing capsule manufacturing. Hence, as a pharmaceutical manufacturer, today might be the right time to get involved.  

5. New applications of capsules in formulation and research 

New applications of capsules in formulation and research

Advances in material science and manufacturing technologies have opened new and exciting applications for capsules in drug delivery and as research tools. For instance, coating with polymers has offered opportunities to produce capsules with controlled-release properties to achieve precise and targeted drug action. Modern enteric capsules with immersive acid-resistant abilities, made with HPMC-phthalate esters, are used to administer acid-labile products like probiotics and fecal matter transplants.  

In the research space, capsules have gone beyond traditional roles in 'blinding' test drugs and placebo for clinical trials. Recently, capsules have been designed for pH determination and environmental monitoring. For example, in laboratories, the pH calibration buffer capsules offer simple pH determination for meters and testers. Also, the Alpha and Bravo capsules used in the measurement of gut pH are invaluable in reflux disease care and research. The Millipore sampling capsule made from polyethersulfone is handy in groundwater metal analysis. 

The growing sophistication in the design and application of capsules in formulation and industrial research is expected to continue, and the opportunities are limitless for passionate players across the fields.  

Conclusion

More trends operate on different scales in the capsule space beyond this list. Many more will still emerge in the future, each presenting with opportunities to consider. What matters most to businesses, therefore, is to stay abreast of the trends and patterns in their niche and prepare to leverage the right chances through early positioning and strategic response.


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