Excipients are used in a number of ways in the manufacture of medicinal products. Along with the active ingredients and the packaging, excipients as the main components of pharmaceutical formulations often function not only as additives, but they are specifically responsible for the safe and efficacious mode of action of medicinal products. In pharmaceutical formulations, excipients are therefore iter alia used as swelling and retrading agents, disintegrants, wetting agents, antioxidants, preservatives, film-forming agents, viscosity enhancers, etc.
Excipients for the manufacture of medicinal products are often used in other industries besides the pharmaceutical industry, such as the food industry, cosmetic industry, chemical industry and construction industry. Pharmaceutical industry tends to be a small customer for excipients in terms of its quantity demands, yet at the same time it (often) sets the most stringent requirements for the manufacturing documentation and quality.