You will handle several different dosage forms of medication during your work day as a pharmacy technician.


Capsules can either be hard or gelatin. Gelatin capsules can be taken apart and contain a powder or granules. Capsules are favored among the dosage forms of medication because they are convenient, accurate, and little to no taste.

dosage forms tablet

Tablets are also a popular dosage form for the same reasons listed above for caspules; however, tablets can be formulated in multiple ways.

  1. Chewable: usually has pleasurable taste; great for children or anyone who has difficult time swallowing pills whole
  2. Sublingual: dissolve under tongue
  3. Buccal: dissolve between cheek and gum
  4. Enteric-coated: prevents dissolution in the stomach. Allows tablet to be dissolved in intestine.
  5. Film-coated: opposite of the enteric-coated. This type of tablet is meant to dissolve in the stomach.
  6. Effervescent: dissolves quickly in liquid. Completely dissolved before it reaches the stomach.


Liquids are great for children and adults, who have a hard time swallowing pills; however, dosing is not as accurate as the solid dosage forms. A liquid medication can be defined as: tinctures, elixirs, syrups, gargles,emulsions, suspensions, or enemas.


Semi-solid medications include: ointments, creams, gels, certain types of inhalers and pastes. Except for semi-solid inhalers, the rest are used almost exclusively as topical treatments. Semi-solid inhalers should have a “Shake Well Before Use” auxiliary label because the particles tend to settle in the dispenser.


Aerosol inhalers also can contain fine solid particles, but the distinct difference is aerosols have a gas propellant and are pressurized. Keep in mind that there are aerosols that are not inhalers. An aerosol can be used to dispense a foam or solid as well as a spray.


Injectable medications common in the retail setting are vials and pre-filled syringes. Hospitals utilize a third type called an ampule. Ampules are self-enclosed glass containers. The correct way to open an ampule is to break open the neck of the ampule, then use a filter needle to extract the medication. The filter needle removes any microscopic glass shards that are present from the breakage.


Lozenges can be mistaken in appearance for a tablet. Unlike most tablets, lozenges are designed to be dissolved in the mouth and contain a sugar flavoring to provide a pleasurable taste. Lozenges are also called troches or pastilles.


Suppositories can be inserted into the vagina, rectum, or urethra. This dosage form is ideal for patients that cannot keep medications down orally.

In addition to learning these various dosage forms, you should also be familiar with content formulation. An additive is anything extra that helps prepare a medication.

Excipients are inactive additives that carry the active ingredients.

Diluents are additives that add bulkiness to a medication so the active ingredient is not overwhelming.

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