Film Coatings for Dietary Supplement Tablets

by Charlie Cunningham,Lou Palermo -

Loyal consumers of dietary supplements are demonstrating an increased interest in ingredients that satisfy “natural" and “clean label" desires. Kosher, Halal and Non-GMO (genetically modified organism) certifications are also becoming a requirement for marketers to appeal to consumers on a global scale. Tablet film coatings can help differentiate a product in the marketplace, and play a key role in appealing to these consumers. These marketing trends can, however, create a challenge in formulating tablet film coatings, which Colorcon is uniquely positioned to solve.

Consider color, for example. It’s not easy to replace traditional synthetic pigments, such as Aluminum lakes, with alternative (non-synthetic) pigments due to possible color stability concerns. Thus, incorporating these more “natural" pigments requires extensive formulation and stability programs to obtain the best quality profiles, including acceptable shelf-life of the formulations, and the finished film-coated tablets. To date, we have developed an extensive palette of colors based on more than a dozen non-synthetic pigments, and combinations thereof.

One of these pigments is Spirulina Extract, which, due to a petition by Colorcon to FDA, now allows our formulators the availability of a “natural" blue. As blue is a primary color and can be blended with colorants that are red and yellow, we are now able to supply an endless variety of shades or hues that appeal to the consumer, with increased brand association.

At Ingredient Marketplace 2017, we will be showcasing our entire color palette – “We’ve Got the Blues! And Reds and Pinks!"

We’re also working to eliminate potential allergens and GMO ingredients, which requires finding new sources of materials that have similar functionality in our film coatings. One example is Opadry® NutraPure, a clear film coating that contains no synthetic ingredients, and is USDA-Certified 100 percent Organic. This coating is also Non-GMO Project Verified, Kosher and Halal certified. As a bonus, NutraPure imparts an elegant gloss and slip to any tablet, enhancing the consumer experience. While certified organic supplements are currently a small part of the overall market, we see a bright future and growth for coatings that make tablets easy to swallow, add gloss, and satisfy the consumer demand for natural and clean label.

In cases where a Certified Organic film coating is not required, but our customers require natural ingredients, Colorcon has the formulation expertise to meet these requirements. Drawing from a full range of film coating polymers and specialty additives (plasticizers, etc.), we can meet these formulation design challenges. While we tend to think of developing formulas to include certain desired ingredients, what we are really achieving is formulating products to exclude items (or attributes) consumers do not want in their supplements.

In a nod toward manufacturing, Colorcon products have always enabled our customers to realize high production yields from their existing assets when they adopt our newer technology products. Adopting new Colorcon technology has allowed customers to maximize efficiency in existing assets and potentially offset capital spends thought necessary to improve capacity.

Partnering with Colorcon gives the manufacturers and marketers of dietary supplements access to the most innovative use of ingredients, the widest palette of colors with or without synthetics, the technical support that makes innovation easy to implement, and the highest manufacturing quality standards in the industry. These things come together and provide the opportunity to make deeper associations of brands with an increasingly diverse and discerning buying public.

Charlie Cunningham Charlie Cunningham

Charlie Cunningham is senior manager in the product development group at Colorcon Inc., where he is responsible for the development of new film coating technologies and applications. In his 24-year career at the company, Cunningham has focused on coating process applications and the scale-up and optimization of aqueous film-coating processes. He has published several articles and holds three industry-related patents.

Lou Palermo Lou Palermo

Lou Palermo is senior business manager, natural and food products, Colorcon Inc. With the company 30 years—mostly in the Southern California nutritional industry epicenter—he has vast experience working with supplement dosage forms. Palermo has assisted countless manufacturers and brand companies in bringing their final products to market with the desired film coating and coloring attributes.

Connect to Colorcon Inc., booth #I21.