Pill (pharmacy)

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Pills (tablets and capsules)

A pill was originally defined as a small, round, solid pharmaceutical oral dosage form of medication that was in use before the advent of tablets and capsules. Pills were made by mixing the active ingredients with an excipient such as glucose syrup in a mortar and pestle to form a paste, then rolling the mass into a long cylindrical shape (called a "pipe"), and dividing it into equal portions, which were then rolled into balls, and often coated with sugar to make them more palatable.[1]

Manufacture and administration of pills were at one time quite prevalent but today, pills have been replaced by tablets, capsules,[2] and variants thereof like caplets—essentially anything with medication that can be digested, minus the liquid forms, colloquially falls into the pill category.

Some pills are designed to contain sensory and communication elements that collect and wirelessly transmit physiological information after being swallowed.[3][relevant? ]

The oldest known pills were made of the zinc carbonates hydrozincite and smithsonite. The pills were used for sore eyes, and were found aboard a Roman ship Relitto del Pozzino which wrecked in 140 BC.[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 1918 US dispensatory article
  2. ^ Ansel, Howard; Allen, Jr., Loyd. Ansel's Pharmaceutical Dosage Forms and Drug Delivery Systems (10th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. p. 294. ISBN 978-1-4698-5568-4. 
  3. ^ Bilton, Nick (June 23, 2013). "Disruptions: Medicine That Monitors You". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 24, 2013. 
  4. ^ "World's oldest pills treated sore eyes". New Scientist. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "Ingredients of a 2,000-y-old medicine revealed by chemical, mineralogical, and botanical investigations". PNAS. 110: 1193–1196. 7 January 2013. doi:10.1073/pnas.1216776110. Retrieved 5 February 2013. 

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