Alcohol excipients are inactive substances generally used as functional additives in pharmaceuticals. Excipient is inactive substance which is used with the active ingredients to improve absorption in body. Excipients also help to control the release of the active substances over a period of time if the treatment demands. As excipients are added to the formulations that contain active ingredients, they are also called bulking agents, fillers or diluents. They are also used to add flavor, and taste to certain pharmaceuticals.
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Alcohol excipients are also required to maintain the pH balance of the formulation, in order to optimize chemical stability and anti-microbial effectiveness. Some of the popular alcohol excipients include sorbitol, mannitol, propylene glycol, and glycerin among others. Excipients such as propylene glycol and glycerol are extensively used in aqueous suspensions and emulsions for external application. Generally excipients are passive substances in medicine and have no therapeutic value to the patient. However, they might have allergic effect on some patients based on the drug formulation.
Growing pharmaceutical industry and development of new alcohol excipients are expected to drive the market. Rising population and changing lifestyle is driving pharmaceutical industry in developing countries. Demand from developed countries is rising owing to government regulations and technological advances in pharmaceutical and biomedicine industry. Demand for glycerin as an excipient is expected to grow at a higher pace owing to growing application scope in medical applications. Sorbitol and propylene glycol account for the largest cumulative market share of alcohol excipients. However, high cost of manufacturing, declining R&D activities and supply issues are expected to hamper the market growth. There also exists a demand supply imbalance, and the price of glycerin is expected to decline due to over production. Rising demand for alcohol excipients in oral solid dosage form (OSDF) is expected to provide opportunities for the players in the near future. However, regulatory risks of alcohol excipients remain, as it is perceived to have some side effects with certain drug formulations.
Europe was the largest consumer of the alcohol excipients accounting for almost one third of the global demand. The growing pharmaceutical market and aging population in Europe is expected to drive the growth of alcohol excipients in the region. Demand volume from North America followed that of Europe. Demand for alcohol excipient in North America is expected to grow owing to increasing scope of applications in medical use. Asia Pacific region, which harbors the majority of the global population, is expected to grow at the fastest pace in the foreseeable future. Improving health standards and rising middle class population in countries such as China, India and Indonesia are expected to drive the consumption of pharmaceuticals and in the process demand for alcohol excipients.
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Japan is a matured market for alcohol excipients in this region and the aging population in Japan is expected to drive demand in the future. Asia Pacific region, especially China, is also expected to be a major manufacturer and supplier of alcohol excipients owing to the economical infrastructural cost and availability of cheap labour.