Woman with glass of water taking white extended release drug.


Extended Release


A Variety of Choices for Successful Formulations 

Extended Release (ER) drugs are employed to improve patient compliance and therapeutic outcomes. They can be utilized to reduce the number of times the patient has to administer medication over the course of the day. ER tablets can also be utilized to prolong the time in which the systemic blood concentration remains within the therapeutic window, while avoiding potential adverse events from spikes in drug concentration.

Depending on the desired drug release profile, formulators have several choices and many advantages of extended release tablets to leverage in development. Selection of an appropriate ER tablets technology is often based on API physicochemical properties and manufacturing experience as the technologies themselves are quite adaptable.

Hydrophillic Matrix Tablets

Hydrophillic matrices are one of the most common means of generating an extended release tablet. In these formulations, the active ingredient is blended with a gelling, water-soluble polymer which forms an erodible gel layer when exposed to water. This gel layer slows the rate at which water reaches the tablet core and thereby slows the rate at which the active ingredient can dissolve and diffuse through the gel into the surrounding liquid. The native solubility of the active ingredient determines whether the release rate is controlled by diffusion through the gel layer or erosion of the gel layer.

Stages of drug release from a matrix tablet and timeline of each stage.

Osmotic Pump Technology

Osmotic pump technology makes use of highly swellable polymers, a water permeable coating and a laser drilled hole for drug release. These products are highly reproducible and can generate a very reliable linear drug release profile which is independent of influencing factors like gastric conditions.

Illustration of osmotic pump technology

Barrier Membrane Coating

Barrier membrane coatings use a polymeric coating material which forms a semi-permeable layer and reduces the rate at which water can penetrate the substrate and at which the dissolved ingredients can diffuse into the surrounding liquid. This method can be applied to drug layered multiparticulates, or even an active ingredient directly which allows for high dose extended release drug formulations.

Illustration of the layers in drugs using a barrier membrane coating

Hydrophobic Matrix Tablets

Hydrophobic matrix tablets use a compressible, non-water-soluble material which is blended with the active ingredient prior to tablet compression to form a matrix with minimal diffusion channels.

Illustration of hydrophobic matrix tablet when activated by water.

Drawing on the key elements from above, we recommend products from our portfolio that are most likely to succeed. An example for tablets is below.

Table showing examples of different ER tablets and commonly used excipients.


We want to help you be successful in whatever application you are considering, so please contact us if you need more assistance. Our experts are eager to tackle your challenges.

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More Applications:


Pharma Solutions offers high-performing and quality ingredients to improve solubility and dissolution for poorly water-soluble drugs.

Pharma Solutions direct compression method for tablet formulations offer manufacturers an efficient and streamlined process.

Pharma Solutions provides quality ingredients for film coated tablets, to improve patient compliance and maintain the dosage form’s mechanical integrity.

Pharma Solutions delivers superior ingredients, solutions and expertise to support granulation processes.

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