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Immediate-Release Drugs vs Sustained/Extended-Release Drugs vs Delayed-Release Drugs

Drugs can be divided into 3 main categories in terms of how releasing their potent. There is the immediate-release type, sustained or extended-release type and the last is the delayed-release type. We will try to define each of form of the drug.

Immediate-release drug means the drug is release directly into the blood stream right after digested in our stomach. This suggests that the use of these drugs have the effect of directly impacting the body in less than 30 minutes. The drug is designed for a lot of people, especially children and the elderly who have difficulty with conventional therapy before like swallowing tablets with water. Immediate-release form provides convenience without the need to use water because of its easy to swallow. Most prescription and over the counter drugs available in the form of immediate-release, it could be said this is the common type of drugs on the market nowadays.

Sustained-release drug means a drug that works by releasing its ingredients over a period of time gradually, contrast to immediate-release which directly release all of ingredients at the time digest by the body. Time needed for sustained-release drug to deliver its active ingredient usually ranges between 8-24 hours. Extended-release form is used to deliver the benefit of drugs in a longer period of time to the users and at the same time lowering the side effects that may arise from the use of the drugs. Drugs use this type of extended-release or sustained- release form usually is a nonsteroidal pain killers because of their influence are needed in the long term.

Delayed-release is a drug that works by releasing its ingredients after a certain period of time, in contrast with a sustained or extended-release form that gradually releases their potent. Its mechanism is similar to immediate release but the difference is the immediate release drug will release full content of ingredients immediately after consumption, while the delayed-release hold to deliver its ingredient until a certain period of time before it is fully release. Delayed-release drugs usually in the form of enteric coated, this is done to prevent the release immediately in the stomach which has acid pH balance in the body. Enteric coated cannot be digested in the body acidic pH condition while in the alkaline pH condition such as in the intestine, enteric coated can be fully digested. This type of drugs usually used to address problems associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Drugs belong to the class of proton pomp inhibitors (PPI), pain medications and arthritis drugs can also be in the form of delayed release drugs.