One of the significant challenges faced by the pharmaceutical industry is the degradation of drugs over time. It occurs because of change in the environmental conditions though the nature of products also plays a notable role in the degradation process.

Nevertheless, the production and distribution of long-lasting drugs and other medical supplies are crucial to pharmaceutical companies’ survival.

With the introduction of pharmaceutical desiccants in India by leading companies like CILICANT, drugs’ shelf-life can be extended, which would simultaneously prompt the customers to rely on products manufactured by various pharmaceutical companies.

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What are desiccants? How do they function?

Desiccants are adsorbents that come in tiny packets, and they essentially help in maintaining a dry environment. A desiccant packet is designed for the stable adsorption of moisture in a closed environment. Such desiccants include silica gel, molecular sieves, activated carbon, and the like.

The porous materials help absorb moisture, chemicals, and odors by allowing water to remain attached to the internal surface.

One can undoubtedly say that the most dangerous threat in the pharmaceutical industry is the damage caused to the products by moisture. Moisture-driven damage can occur in several ways.

Some of the common problems include a decline in the hardness of tablets, reduction in the potency of the drug, mold growth, development of pungent odors, color loss, and the breakdown of necessary intermediates.

Relative Humidity (RH)

The accumulation of water vapor in the atmosphere is in terms of relative humidity. It is usually calculated in percentage (at a given temperature). However, the presence of water vapor in the environment, climate, method of packing, etc. during the time of production does have a significant influence on the longevity of drugs.

Apart from these factors, the materials used for filling can also function as a cause of moisture. Desiccants can effectively tackle the damages caused by moisture problems by reducing water vapor volume present in the air.

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Different types of Desiccants

One of the prerequisites of a desiccant is that it should be inert. If the desiccant is chemically active, it might react with the tablets and make the composition toxic.

Therefore, substances that are appropriate for storage make up desiccants. Silica gel, molecular sieves, and activated carbon are some of the commonly used constituents.

Molecular Sieve

It is a highly porous material popularly used in the pharmaceutical industry for high-quality packaging. Due to their ability to remain stable even in unfriendly temperature ranges, they are widely useful worldwide. The pore sizes of sieves vary significantly from that of silica gel.

The sieves have a lower distribution rate, while silica gel is known for its wide distribution. Therefore, the applications of sieves are mainly in specific circumstances that demand complete moisture removal.

Also, sieves are more quick and aggressive when it comes to the process of adsorption. Nevertheless, one should be careful while choosing the right dosage for products with complex RH demands.

Silica Gel

Silica gel is the most common material used in the production of desiccants and is also highly porous and consists of capillaries, which leave them with a large surface area. Silica gel is granulated silicon dioxide and is inert in the solid-state.

Though their adsorption rate is relatively low at higher temperatures, they work efficiently in normal conditions. They are mainly available in two varieties: the white variant and the color-changing variant sensitive to adsorption. The non-indicating variant indicates whether the desiccant is exhausted or not.

Apart from their pharmaceutical industry usage, silica gel is also useful in drying out mobile phones and protecting old photographs from any damage and odor in highly humid environments.

Activated Carbon

Also known as activated charcoal, they are suitable for producing desiccants due to their ability to absorb adsorb odor virtually. Like silica gel, activated carbon also has a very high surface area, and they become vital during packaging as they can seamlessly remove odor particles.

It is better to blend silica gel with activated carbon to regulate moisture and odor to get the best result. Due to their odor-controlling capacity, activated carbon is used in several other industries to preserve the products’ freshness. They can also adsorb toxic gases, and hence they have military applications as well.


Pharmaceutical desiccants are vital in maintaining the freshness of drugs along with extending their shelf life. Every kind of medicine can get damaged if exposed to moisture. Therefore, the timely use of non-toxic, inert desiccants can save the drugs from issues like potency loss and caking.