A better pill to swallow

As pharmaceutical innovations go, improving drug formulations for better absorption is one of the most important – something Abel + Imray’s pharma clients would agree with. That’s where American physician, Dr William Upjohn, is credited with inventing the easier-to-swallow pill.

Earlier versions often had very hard coatings that didn’t break down properly in the stomach, resulting in patients receiving an unreliable dose of medicine, or not feeling the benefits at all. In 1885, William Upjohn was granted a patent for his revolutionary process that compressed solid medicines into easily dissolvable pills. These proved to be highly efficient to manufacture and transport. They also made it more comfortable for patients to take their medicine – and ensure the right parts of the body absorbed it.

Being a marketing whiz, as well as a great physician and inventor, Upjohn called his digestible pills ‘friable pills’ – a term that referred to their crushability. He advertised them by sending samples to other doctors, along with wooden boards so they could see for themselves how easily the pills broke down under their thumbs. It was this kind of smart thinking that proved Upjohn was ahead of his time – and established his invention as one of the first major advances in the field of drug delivery.

Onwards and Upjohn
The Upjohn Pill and Granule Company continued to expand throughout the 19th and 20th centuries – merging with Pharmacia in 1995, before being purchased in 2002 by Pfizer.