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Do Coatings On Pills Affect The Digestion

Of The P Essay, Research Paper

Dan Jahncke’s Pill Problemdone by: Dan Jahncke1-15-96 8E Science Gleason Question: Do coatings on pills affect the digestion of the pill? Background: People get sick all the time. Usually they take some kind of over-the-counter drug (OTC). One of the well-known over-the-counter drugs is Tylenol, a drug that relieves things for headaches to fevers. Tylenol comes in many forms such as pills. Some types of Tylenol pills are caplets, tablets, chewable tablets, gelcaps, and geltabs. Often times Tylenol pills have coatings on them. Some of the coatings on the pills are films, enteric, and gels. Some pills such as tablets and caplets have no coatings. Tylenol does not use enteric coatings on any of their pills because the contents of Tylenol pills are not extremely hard on stomachs. Tylenol does not use film coatings either, because film coatings are usually used with capsules, and most over-the-counter drugs are not in capsule form because they are too easy to tamper with. Usually the only type of drug that is in capsule form would be prescribed. One such drug is Amoxicillin. Tylenol uses either a gelatin coating or no coating on their pills. A gelatin coating helps to slide the pill down the throat, it also makes the pill so it does not stick and embed itself into the lining of the stomach, so they are not as likely to cause ulcers. The gelatin makes the pill slippery. The shape of the pill also has an effect on what will happen when taken. Caplets and tablets are made of the same thing, just they are shaped differently, as are geltabs and gelcaps. Tablets and geltabs are round, and caplets and gelcaps are an oval shape, like a submarine. Tablets are a little harder to swallow because of their shape. When I asked Excedrin’s distributor, Bristol-Myers Co., why some companies still make tablets they replied, “Because there are still people who enjoy the tablet.” On the other hand chewable tablets are the easiest pill to take. Chewables are broken up into small pieces in the mouth so they can slide down a child’s little throat easily. Coatings of pills do affect the digestion of the pill, according Mr. Michael Heidt a registered pharmacist. On Saturday, January 13, 1996, I interviewed Mr. Heidt. He said pills with enteric coating are mainly digested in the small intestine, while all other pills are mainly digested in the stomach and the small intestine. Tablets, caplets, chewable tablets, geltabs, and geltabs are broken apart in the stomach, and some of the absorption takes place in the stomach while the majority takes place in the small intestine. The only difference between the pills with a gelatin coating and the pills without a gelatin coating is the pills with the coating are slippery, which allows the pills to slide down the throat easier and allows the pills not to become stuck in the lining of the stomach. Some consumers when shopping for over the counter pills are mislead by some characteristics of the pills. Gelcaps are usually perceived as being more potent than tablets, even when they of are equal strength. Most people think a larger pill will have greater effects than a small pill when that is not always the case. The digestion of a pill involves the stomach and the small intestine. To simulate the acids in these organs, pepsin and hydrochloric acid are required. In the digestion of a pill the stomach helps to break apart the pill and does a little absorption, and the small intestine absorbs the rest of the pill to help the body fight of a sickness. The body eliminates drugs with other waste materials. Most drugs are eliminated in the urine. Drugs also exit the body in sweat, tears, and solid wastes. Procedure: 1- Put hydrochloric acid in 5 small containers (20 ml). 2- Make sure the containers are small enough to make the hydrochloric acid cover each pill completely. 3- Put one Tylenol caplet in the first container, and label that container caplet. 4- Put one Tylenol tablet in the second container, and label that container tablet. 5- Put one Tylenol chewable tablet in the third container, and label that container chewable. 6- Put one Tylenol gelcap in the fourth container, and label that container

gelcap. 7- Put one Tylenol geltab in the fifth container, and label that container geltab. 8- Finally record the results of what happened when Tylenol was put in hydrochloric acid. Purpose and Prediction: The purpose of this experiment is to find out if coatings on pills affect the digestion of the pill, so we will know which type of pill we should take when we have a headache. I predict that caplets and tablets will dissolve first, chewable tablets will dissolve second, gelcaps and geltabs will dissolve last. I think coatings will have an affect on the digestion of the pill. I think that the thicker the coating the pill has the longer it will take to be digested. The chewable will have an easy time traveling down the esophagus if it chewed by the mouth, but if it is not chewed it will have the hardest time traveling down because it is the biggest and most awkward. The gelcap would be the easiest to swallow whole because it has a slippery gelatin coating and because it is shaped like a submarine. The geltab would be pretty easy to swallow because it has a slippery gelatin coating. The caplet will be shaped so it can be swallowed easier than the tablet, but it is not slippery. The tablet would be the hardest to swallow because it has no coating and is shaped awkwardly. Data: See table. Analysis/Conclusion: We know caplets and tablets have no coating. This allows the contents to be released right away. This ability allows a person to be relieved of a headache sooner. The chewable tablets have different contents then caplets, tablets, geltabs, and gelcaps. These contents are harder for hydrochloric acid to break down because they have to be able to be chewed and not dispensed at the same time. The contents of a chewable also have flavoring in them. Chewable tablets have dyes on them, this is why the chewable tablet that was originally purple turned red when put in the hydrochloric acid. Geltabs and gelcaps took the longest to dissolve because they have a thick coating that is hard to dissolve. The contents of the pills are a caplet inside the gelcap and a tablet inside the geltab. You would see this if you took off the gelatin coatings on the pills. Yes, coatings on pills do affect the digestion of the pill. The thicker the coating on the pill the longer it takes the pill to break apart in the stomach, and vise versa. The reason for this is if a pill has a thick or tough coating the stomach would need to spend more time trying to get to the center of it, opposed to a pill with little or no coating which would be easy to get to the center, if the contents are easy to digest. In fact the coatings on gelcaps and geltabs are so strong that you would need a needle to puncture it. On the other hand a chewable tablet can be punctured easily. This is true also with tablets and caplets which are like chalk and can be broken apart easily. One good thing about a pill with a gelatin coating is the coating helps slid the pill down the throat and it prevents a pill from imbedding itself into the lining of the stomach. A chewable is easier on smaller throats because it can be broken apart by the mouth into small parts so the consumer will not choke. Next time you need to take an over-the-counter drug for a headache and reach for a Tylenol, I would recommend caplets because they are released immediately into the system for fast relief of headaches and pain. The caplets are also easy to swallow because of their shape. For certain people this may not be true. For little children, they should take a chewable tablet. For older adults a gelcap may suit them best, if they have trouble swallowing pills, a gelcap is shaped so it is easy to swallow and it has a slippery gelatin coating so it will slide down a throat. DATA TABLE BIBLIOGRAPHY Heidt, Michael (registered pharmacist). Personal interview. 13 Jan. 1996. Krema, Richard, and Paul Sanberg, Ph.D. Over-the-Counter Drugs. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986. Swinee, Tracy (Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Consumer Affairs Operator). Personal interview. 16 Jan. 1996