We all know about the use of lactose in medications, both prescription and over-the counter. Lactose isn't really used in every medication, of course; it just sorta seems that way.
But why? What makes lactose so useful? One way to answer that question is to ask a manufacturer and listen to it boast.
Here's an article, really a press release in disguise, that appeared on PharmaceuticalOnline.com.
The Lactose Leader
Sheffield has been manufacturing pharma-grade Lactose products since 1940. It has the longest reputation for anhydrous direct tableting excipients, and holds the original patent for NF Anhydrous Direct Tableting (DT) lactose. Today it produces both monohydrate and anhydrous forms of lactose at a fully cGMP compliant FDA registered drug establishment in the US. It uses a certified rennet-free whey source to eliminate any possible TSE contamination concerns.
A key recent innovation has been the creation of a high-flowing ‘DTHV' NF lactose grade, which forms harder tablets at lower compaction forces than other high-flowing directly compressible products. At the same time DTHV tablets have similar disintegration profiles as other high flowing directly compressible lactose tablets with lower hardness values. ...
Sheffield's Tabletting System concept provides a simple way to create custom fast-dissolving tablet formulations using a free-flowing lactose-based functional powder for direct compression. Customers only need to add the desired active and a flavour (or a taste-masked active), plus lubricant, and then form into tablets using standard direct compression techniques.
Sheffield's recently launched range of Kerry Pharma Flavours, which now enjoys pharma levels of quality control, can improve the taste of pharmaceuticals by masking the unpleasant taste associated with many active pharmaceutical ingredients. Kerry's understanding of flavour perception, regional consumer preferences and extensive product knowledge permit the optimal choice of flavour profiles for every pharma application. 14 standard flavours are available, but in-house development capabilities permit the creation of custom flavours as required.
Sheffield's Film Coating Systems provide an easy-to-use yet complete solution for tablet cosmetics and functionality. The range comprises four clear coating systems, a colour coating system and two choices of enteric coating system. All are supplied as a free-flowing powder that is readily dissolved in water to yield a ready-to-spray solution for aqueous film coating. Application substrates range from pharmaceutical tablets to nutritional supplements.
It all sounds so wonderful there hardly seems to be any reason to spoil the lactose pills with those icky medicines. But they do.
And we who are lactose intolerant or dairy allergic are just going to have to live with it, because with all this wonderfulness going on you know they won't stop using lactose for a long time to come.