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Tablets, Capsules, Pills & Chewables: What’s the difference?

Earlier, people usually had either tablets or capsules as medications. With the rapid growth of the pharmaceutical industry, today there are multiple options. These include pills, caplets, soft gels, and chewable in addition to tablets and capsules. This variety gives consumers a range of choices with respect to medicaments. 

What are pills?

“Pills” is a general term that denotes any rounded and small masses that are used as medications, supplements, and painkillers. You swallow (with water) or chew them. They are taken either for medicinal or nutritional purposes. Here are the common forms (physical formats) of pills that are available in the market.


You must have seen capsules. They are cylindrical-shaped medicines. Powder or jelly components are placed inside the dissolvable outer shell that is made from gelatin. However, some capsules have a non-gelatin shell, i.e, the ingredient is derived from the hydrolysis of collagen from animal origin. 

  • Hard-shelled capsules: They contain biofuels obtained from organic matter and powdered ingredients.
  • Soft-shelled capsules: They contain a combination of water, opacifier, and gelatin. Such capsules are primarily used for ingredients that are dissolved in oil.


Softgels are a form of specialized capsules that are made up of gelatin-based shells with a liquid fill. It is often used to deliver semi-solid or liquid suspensions. These gels are water-soluble since they are designed to get dissolved easily in the small intestine or stomach. However, chewing or dissolving them shall not be relevant from a medical point of view. 


Tablets are often known as “solid unit dosage form”. They comprise ingredients mostly in the form of powder. Further, a solid dose is formulated by either compacting or pressing. Tablets are round in shape and are intended for oral administration. Some are swallowed directly with water, some are dispersed in water, and some are kept on the tongue till they dissolve. 


Some people are not able to swallow medicines. These include children also. In such cases, chewable are made available with various flavors and sugars. This, however, decreases the potency of the medicines due to the presence of additives. Chewables offer delivery of particles without requiring water. Furthermore, this type of dosage facilitates the release of active components easily with a good taste. 

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