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Pharmaceutical Tablet Design: Top 4 Factors to Consider

March 10, 2023

There is a lot that goes into the design and manufacture of pharmaceutical tablets beyond the core drug at their center. What your pill looks like, how easily it can be swallowed, and other factors are crucial to the success of your product.

There are four main factors a pharmaceutical company should consider when designing a tablet to deliver the drug to the patient.

Factor #1: Tablet Size & Shape

When it comes to the size and shape of your tablet, you should first consider the swallowability of a tablet. After all, if your patient has difficulty swallowing your tablets, it could lead to lower patience compliance and a negative experience with your brand.

On the other hand, by minimizing the shape of your drug to no more than 22 mm in diameter — and ideally not exceeding 8 mm — you can ensure the best positive experience for patients.

Tablet shape is also important, as some shapes and dimensions may present a choking hazard for patients.

Quick tip: Minimize tablet size by choosing ingredients and a process that can keep weight and size at a minimum. This can be difficult to do depending on dose strength, compressibility, and other factors. Work with an expert like Colorcon to achieve these results.

Factor #2: Tablet Color

Multicolor tablet display1

Today's pharmaceutical tablets come in a wide range of colors, and there's good reason for that. Color is vital for branding, so you should avoid plain white tablets that may be easier to manufacture but ultimately make your drug a forgettable product.

Tablet color is important not just for branding, but also safety purposes, too. By using distinctive colors, you make different tablet dosages easily distinguishable and less likely to be ingested accidentally by the patient. Plain white tablets can be particularly susceptible to this problem, so carefully selecting a color is of paramount importance to pharma companies.

Quick tip: Use distinct differences in color and shading for different dosage strengths. This allows you to have enough differentiation to satisfy regulators while also preserving your branding.

Factor #3: Tablet Coating

If you have ever tried to swallow a tablet that was not coated, you know how unpleasant that experience can be. Film coatings result in a more pleasing experience for patients and therefore better patient compliance and satisfaction.

Not all coatings are created equal. A specialist finish makes it the easier for the patient to take and for patients with swallowing difficulties, this is an important feature for the medication.

Quick tip: Combining small size and a glossy, film-coated finish is the best way to maximize swallowability. Also, shapes that are oval or have rounded edges can help.

Factor #4: Tablet Appearance & Branding

When candy manufacturers design confectionary such as M&Ms and Skittles, they put a lot of work into making sure they look attractive. While we tend not to think of medication the same way, it is important for pills to have an attractive appearance for the same reasons: it is good for the customer experience and for branding.

We all know what an M&M looks like with that trademark "M" in the middle as well as its shape and the multiple colors. We all know what Viagra looks like due to its familiar blue color and unique diamond shape. Similarly, you should invest in designing a tablet that will be memorable to patients.

Quick tip: If you are unsure what is possible in terms of tablet appearance, ask a professional like the technical experts at Colorcon. They can give you feedback on possible designs and will seek to understand and work with your branding needs.

Start Experimenting with Pharmaceutical Tablet Designs Now

The good news is you can start working on pharmaceutical tablet and pill designs right now. At Colorcon, we offer BEST®, the unique tablet design service that allows you to choose the perfect color and shape to distinguish your brand, while promoting improved patient safety and medication compliance at the same time.

With BEST, Colorcon experts will:

  • Review your therapeutic category to differentiate your product
  • Advise on shape design to improve swallowability and handling
  • Include color preference research to match marketing requirements
  • Help you visualize the final product with photorealistic image printouts
  • Provide 3-D printed tablet prototypes finished with Colorcon coating for final evaluation

Contact us today and we will get started on creating the best possible tablet design for your company, and your patients.

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