Why are some medicines in capsule form whereas others are in tablet form?

Nobody wants to get sick because nobody wants to take any medicines, whether a syrup, a tablet, or a capsule form of medicine. And much more, no one wants to be at the ER.

However, although we are not sick, we sometimes need to take vitamins or other supplements to help us work efficiently and function at our best, especially when we have so many things to accomplish.

But our curious minds would sometimes wonder why are there medications that come as pills, and others as injections? And why are some pills in tablet while others are in capsule form?

Before a physician prescribes a medicine, there are a few things he has to consider, such as where a drug needs to be, how quickly it needs to get there, and how long it needs to hang around. For instance, after a patient had undergone major surgery, the doctor will prescribe a strong painkiller thru IV drip to get the drug circulating immediately and to pain receptors in the body. However, if you have a chronic condition, a medicine via IV will be inconvenient for you. You don’t have the luxury of time to sit or lie for an hour or more after meals while waiting for the medication to drip into your veins slowly. That’s why there are medications in capsules or tablets.

To better understand which type of medicine works better, although they work similarly, there are still pros and cons for each medication type.

Let’s think of a ride, heading into a particular destination, let’s say it’s summer travel to Boracay Island. There are ways to reach the island via helicopter or a plane, and via bus travel followed by a boat trip to the island. The drug (ibuprofen) is the passenger going to Boracay Island.

Passenger: The drug

The active component is an essential part of the medication. For example, it’s ibuprofen for a pain killer, while for cholesterol control, it’s rosuvastatin. Let’s make the drug (ibuprofen) as the passenger. It will have a therapeutic response (relieve pain) in the body once it reaches its final destination (Boracay, Island). However, reaching the destination entails safe and speedy transportation. Whether which vehicle can make the drug reach Boracay Island faster and safer is like to which drug will take a quicker and safer effect.

The vehicle: The drug form (and dosage)

So, which is better? A capsule or tablet medicine?


A tablet drug is combined with substances to give shape, texture, and color. These inactive ingredients make the drug or medicine chemically stable so that it can be shipped and stored. They also help prescribe how the drug is digested in your stomach and intestines, freeing the active ingredient.

Tablet is more durable; that is why most oral medications come in tablet form. They can withstand physical pressures. Tablets can be round, disc-shaped, or oblong, also known as caplets, easier to swallow.

Some have lined the middle to make the tablet easily be halved. Ideally, tablets should only dissolve once they’re in the small intestines; that is why some tablets have a special coating to prevent them from breaking down in the stomach.

different drugs in tablet and in capsule forms


Capsules are also oral medication, but the difference is the shell. It may have a hard or soft gel coating. Compared to tablets, capsules break down quickly, thus can offer faster relief from symptoms than tablets.

Also, capsules lessen the unpleasant taste and odor of a drug. They are designed as tamper-resistant, which means they cannot be easily split. But capsules have higher bioavailability, which means that more of the drug is likely to enter your bloodstream.

There are a few disadvantages of capsules, including the lesser durability. It may quickly react to environmental conditions like humidity and temperature, and it easily expires. Capsules are usually in lower doses, so it cannot accommodate as much medication as tablets.

The road: Our bodies

So, finding out the differences between the tablet and the capsule will give you the idea of which type of medication will work well on a particular part of your body in need of a drug, or the drug will work smoothly.

However, there are instances that the passenger is not satisfied with the road, so there are unexpected reactions when taking the drug, such as allergies and other adverse reactions. The bottom line is that no matter we know the reasons why some meds are in tablet form while the others are in capsules, it would still be safest to consult an expert or a doctor to which type of medicine is the answer to your problem and for you to have your smooth journey.

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