Are Pill Coats Safe for your Gut

Are Coats on your Pills Right Fit for your Gut?

Scientific breakthroughs lead to medicine creation, which are valuable tools for physicians in patient care. Medicines may make people well, ward off disease, relieve pain, and a few more, but they may come in formulations that are not friendly to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Other times, the medicines may require protection from the harsh stomach environment as it could destroy or damage them before they get a chance to work. Moreover, few drugs are unstable if left in an unaltered state. Complex technical processing is required before medicine appears on the pharmacy shelves to overcome these obstacles.

The challenge for medication manufacturers is transforming a valuable natural or chemical product into a safe and effective medicine for patient consumption. Treatments need to get where they need to go to complete the tasks without posing any harm to other areas of the body.

Purpose of Medication coatings

Medication coatings serve many purposes, like increasing product shelf life, supplying a hard cover for brittle or crumbly compounds to avoid the dissolving of medicine in the mouth, masking bitter taste, and providing color to establish brand identity.

Finishes may consist of extenders, fillers, surfactants, anti-foaming mechanisms, anti-tacking agents, binders, glidents, opacifiers, pigments, plasticizers, and polymers. Various chemicals need help to get past the stomach, including those that can cause damage to the stomach, make it vulnerable to gastric juices, stop working over time, degrade at different temperatures, and are sensitive to moisture.

Enteric coating

The coating is essential to place a barrier over a medication. It helps prevent the medicine from dissolving until after it passes through the stomach. When we say the word ‘enteric,’ it means relating to or being within the intestine. When you have an enteric coating, the medication releases depending on the pH value within the GI tract. It also initiates the breakdown of a specific finish that is applied. The strategy to use pH as a trigger to achieve a particular release of a product that rises from the learning of pH variation along with the GI tract.

Natural products like peppermint oil and fish oil benefit the consumer when an enteric coating allows the release into the intestines. However, when consumed uncoated, these products may release in the stomach, possibly leading to a decrease in efficacy and causing unwanted effects on the upper GI tract. Few medication compounds may contain a casing layer that immediately releases active ingredients in the stomach, with an inner enteric coating. This may also delay the release of the inner core. Usually, the different medications, until farther down in the GI tract.

Do all 5-ASAs have a similar coating?

5-ASAs (5-aminosalicylic acids) are a group of medications helpful in treating inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. They require specific coatings to reach precise affected locations in the GI tract for the intestinal mucosa to direct application. Otherwise, they are absorbed by the overall body resulting in an increased incidence of adverse drug reactions.


Pentasa (mesalamine) is one of the top examples of a 5-ASA, non-pH-dependant, granular enteric-coated product. It is a pressed tablet with a mixture of drug microspheres. These are coated with one, two, or even three layers of ethylcellulose. After the safe pass through the stomach, the one-layer granules are released in the upper small intestine; the two-layer granules are released later in the small intestine, and the triple-covered granules in the colon. The release of another 5-ASA product, Dipentum (olsalazine), usually occurs in the large intestine, where colonic bacteria break down the non-pH-dependant enteric coating.


Enteric-coated Asacol (mesalamine) is a pH-dependant 5-ASA product helpful in maintaining remission and ulcerative colitis treatment. The precise release at a pH of 7.0 or greater means it stays protected through the GI tract until it reaches the terminal ileum. The place is where the large and small intestines join, allowing topical action throughout the colon. Complete dose delivery to the disease area is quite essential. Patients with moderately active ulcerative colitis treated with 4.8g/day of mesalamine (800 mg tablet) are significantly likely to improve overall at six weeks compared to those treated with 2.4 g/day.


The knowledge to choose the medication is essential, specifically when considering a generic treatment version. Although a generic 5-ASA product attempts to mimic the pH release of the medicine like Asacol, it can help study the demonstration of the generic product release at a pH of 5.5 or greater. It means the active ingredient may disperse at a non-disease site and may not be of full benefit to the disease located throughout the colon. There is no convincing evidence that a generic 5-ASA product consists of inter-changeability, therapeutic equivalence, and bioequivalence with brand products designed to release in the targeted locations within the GI tract.


Considering all the complexities involved in the medication coating, it is helpful to understand whether the medication you are thinking of using is reaching its intended location. Changing the product coat may lead to unintended consequences. It would help if you made sure that the coat fits.

If you want to get any more insight on medications, you can contact Wiserx today!

rx card

Leave a Comment