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Can carboxymethyl cellulose be used in pharmaceuticals?

Views: 0     Author: Unionchem     Publish Time: 2023-08-02      Origin:

Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) is a versatile chemical compound that has found widespread use in many industries, including pharmaceuticals. In this post, we will explore the various applications of CMC in the pharmaceutical industry, its benefits, and its limitations.

What is Carboxymethyl Cellulose?

Carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC)is a water-soluble polymer derived from cellulose, which is a natural polymer found in plant cell walls. CMC is made by chemically modifying cellulose with carboxymethyl groups (-CH2-COOH). The resulting compound is a white to off-white powder that is highly soluble in water and forms a clear, viscous solution.

Applications of Carboxymethyl Cellulose in Pharmaceuticals

CMC has many applications in the pharmaceutical industry due to its unique properties. Some of the most common applications of CMC in pharmaceuticals include:

1. Binder: CMC is often used as a binder in tablet formulations to hold the active ingredients together. It helps to improve the tablet's hardness and reduce the risk of it breaking or crumbling during handling.

2. Disintegrant: CMC can also be used as a disintegrant to help tablets break down quickly in the digestive tract. This allows for faster absorption of the active ingredients and improved efficacy.

3. Suspending agent: CMC can be used as a suspending agent to keep solid particles suspended in liquid formulations. This is particularly useful for suspensions that need to be shaken before use.

4. Emulsifier: CMC can act as an emulsifier, helping to mix oil and water-based ingredients in pharmaceutical formulations.

Benefits of Using Carboxymethyl Cellulose in Pharmaceuticals

1. Easy to use: CMC is easy to handle and can be added to formulations in small quantities without affecting the overall quality of the product.

2. Cost-effective: CMC is a cost-effective alternative to other thickening agents, such as guar gum and locust bean gum.

3. Safe: CMC is considered safe for use in pharmaceuticals and has been approved by regulatory bodies such as the FDA.

4. Versatile: CMC can be used in a wide range of pharmaceutical formulations, including tablets, capsules, suspensions, and emulsions.

Limitations of Using Carboxymethyl Cellulose in Pharmaceuticals

1. Limited solubility: While CMC is highly soluble in water, it may not dissolve completely in some organic solvents, which can limit its use in certain formulations.

2. Limited thickening ability: CMC has limited thickening ability compared to other thickeners such as xanthan gum or guar gum.

3. pH sensitivity: CMC is sensitive to pH and may not work as well in acidic or alkaline environments.


In conclusion, carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) is a versatile and cost-effective thickening agent that has many applications in the pharmaceutical industry. Its unique properties make it ideal for use as a binder, disintegrant, suspending agent, and emulsifier. While it does have some limitations, CMC remains a popular choice for pharmaceutical manufacturers looking for a safe and effective thickening agent. If you are interested in learning more about CMC or other thickeners for pharmaceuticals, please contact us at Unionchem. Unionchem provides extraordinary thickeners that are safe for using.