Saturday, May 28, 2011

Invention of the day: bitter medicine no more.

To fight a nascent headache, I took two capsules of Acetominophen, commonly known by its brand name Tylenol. What a remarkable invention, I thought. Not the medicine itself, but the way it is packaged. The two-part capsule is ubiquitous. It easily defeats the old common wisdom about the necessity of swallowing a bitter pill to beat whatever ails you. I wish I could invent something like that.

To my utter astonishment, I learned that medicine capsules were invented more than 150 years ago. Since everybody on the web seems to quote Wikipedia on it (with a reference to volume 7 of Encyclopedia of Pharmaceutical Technology which few read), I'm doing it too:

James Murdock of London patented the two-piece telescoping gelatin capsule in 1847. The capsules are made in two parts by dipping metal rods in the gelling agent solution. The capsules are supplied as closed units to the pharmaceutical manufacturer. Before use, the two halves are separated, the capsule is filled with powder or more normally spheroids made by the process of spheronization (either by placing a compressed slug of powder into one half of the capsule, or by filling one half of the capsule with loose powder) and the other half of the capsule is pressed on.

Though new medicine capsule inventions, according to, happen almost every day, the 150-year old idea is still alive and well.

tags: invention, problem, book, payload, packaging,  health, solution

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