Historical Evolution and Provider Awareness of Inactive Ingredients in Oral Medications.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


A multitude of different versions of the same medication with different inactive ingredients are currently available. It has not been quantified how this has evolved historically. Furthermore, it is unknown whether healthcare professionals consider the inactive ingredient portion when prescribing medications to patients.


We used data mining to track the number of available formulations for the same medication over time and correlate the number of available versions in 2019 to the number of manufacturers, the years since first approval, and the number of prescriptions. A focused survey among healthcare professionals was conducted to query their consideration of the inactive ingredient portion of a medication when writing prescriptions.


The number of available versions of a single medication have dramatically increased in the last 40 years. The number of available, different versions of medications are largely determined by the number of manufacturers producing this medication. Healthcare providers commonly do not consider the inactive ingredient portion when prescribing a medication.


A multitude of available versions of the same medications provides a potentially under-recognized opportunity to prescribe the most suitable formulation to a patient as a step towards personalized medicine and mitigate potential adverse events from inactive ingredients.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Reker, D; Blum, SM; Wade, P; Steiger, C; Traverso, G

Published Date

  • October 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 37 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 234 -

PubMed ID

  • 33123783

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8212167

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-904X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0724-8741

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s11095-020-02953-2


  • eng