Lipids and polymers in pharmaceutical technology: Lifelong companions

Int J Pharm. 2019 Mar 10:558:128-142. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpharm.2018.12.080. Epub 2019 Jan 9.


In pharmaceutical technology, lipids and polymers are considered pillar excipients for the fabrication of most dosage forms, irrespective of the administration route. They play various roles ranging from support vehicles to release rate modifiers, stabilizers, solubilizers, permeation enhancers and transfection agents. Focusing on selected applications, which were discussed at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gattefossé Foundation 2018, this manuscript recapitulates the fundamental roles of these two important classes of excipients, either employed alone or in combination, and provides insight on their functional properties in various types of drug formulations. Emphasis is placed on oral formulations for the administration of active pharmaceutical ingredients with low aqueous solubilities or poor permeation properties. Additionally, this review article covers the use of lipids and polymers in the design of colloidal injectable delivery systems, and as substrates in additive manufacturing technologies for the production of tailor-made dosage forms.

Keywords: 3D printing; Gene delivery; Liposomes; Peptides; Polymersomes; Self-emulsifying drug delivery systems; Solid dispersions; Sustained release.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Dosage Forms
  • Drug Carriers / administration & dosage
  • Drug Carriers / chemistry
  • Excipients / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Lipids / administration & dosage
  • Lipids / chemistry*
  • Nanoparticles / administration & dosage
  • Nanoparticles / chemistry
  • Polymers / administration & dosage
  • Polymers / chemistry*
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Technology, Pharmaceutical


  • Dosage Forms
  • Drug Carriers
  • Excipients
  • Lipids
  • Polymers