Active ingredient
An active ingredient is the substance of a pharmaceutical drug or a pharmaceutical ingredient (API) and bulk active in medicine; in pesticide formulation
Pesticide formulation
The biological activity of a pesticide, be it chemical or biological in nature, is determined by its active ingredient . Pesticide products very rarely consist of pure technical material. The AI is usually formulated with other materials and this is the product as sold, but it may be further...

s active substance may be used. Some medications and pesticide products may contain more than one active ingredient. The traditional word for the API is pharmacon or pharmakon (from Greek: (φάρμακον), adapted from pharmacos) which originally denoted a magical substance or drug.

A dosage form
Dosage form
-Introduction:Dosage forms are a mixture of active drug components and nondrug components. Depending on the method of administration they come in several types. These are liquid dosage form, solid dosage form and semisolid dosage forms. A Liquid dosage form is the liquid form of a dose of a...

 of a drug is traditionally composed of two things: the API, which is the drug itself; and an excipient
An excipient is generally a pharmacologically inactive substance used as a carrier for the active ingredients of a medication. In many cases, an "active" substance may not be easily administered and absorbed by the human body; in such cases the substance in question may be dissolved into or...

, which is the substance of the tablet, or the liquid the API is suspended in, or other material that is pharmaceutically inert
-Chemistry:In chemistry, the term inert is used to describe a substance that is not chemically reactive.The noble gases were previously known as inert gases because of their perceived lack of participation in any chemical reactions...

. Drugs are chosen primarily for their active ingredients. Because homeopathic
Homeopathy is a form of alternative medicine in which practitioners claim to treat patients using highly diluted preparations that are believed to cause healthy people to exhibit symptoms that are similar to those exhibited by the patient...

 products no longer have any biologically active ingredients, their list of ingredients refers to the original ingredients used in their preparation and the finished product no longer contains any active ingredients.


Patients often have difficulty identifying the active ingredients in their medication, and are often unaware of the notion of an active ingredient. When patients are on multiple medications, active ingredients can interfere with each other, often resulting in severe or life-threatening complications. There now exist online services which can identify the active ingredient of most medications, such as the Medicine Name Finder developed by the National Prescribing Service
National Prescribing Service
Established in March 1998, the National Prescribing Service is a non-profit organisation, funded by the Government of Australia's Department of Health and Ageing. Since July 2010, the organisation has been officially known as NPS.-Overview:...


Herbal medicine

In phytopharmaceutical or herbal medicine, the active ingredient may be either unknown or may require cofactors
Cofactor (biochemistry)
A cofactor is a non-protein chemical compound that is bound to a protein and is required for the protein's biological activity. These proteins are commonly enzymes, and cofactors can be considered "helper molecules" that assist in biochemical transformations....

 in order to achieve therapeutic goals. This leads to complications in labelling. One way manufacturers have attempted to indicate strength is to engage in standardization
Standardization is the process of developing and implementing technical standards.The goals of standardization can be to help with independence of single suppliers , compatibility, interoperability, safety, repeatability, or quality....

 to a marker
Marker may refer to:* Marker , a morpheme that indicates some grammatical function* Marker , a special-purpose computer* A set of sewing patterns tightly arranged within a rectangle that is placed over cloth to be cut...

 compound. However, standardization has not been achieved yet: different companies use different markers, or different levels of the same markers, or different methods of testing for marker compounds. For instance, St John's wort
St John's wort
St John's wort is the plant species Hypericum perforatum, and is also known as Tipton's Weed, Chase-devil, or Klamath weed....

 is often standardized to the hypericin
Hypericin is a naphthodianthrone, a red-colored anthraquinone-derivative, which, together with hyperforin, is one of the principal active constituents of Hypericum . Hypericin is believed to act as an antibiotic and non-specific kinase inhibitor...

 which is now known not to be the "active ingredient" for antidepressant use. Other companies standardize to hyperforin
Hyperforin is a phytochemical produced by some of the members of the plant genus Hypericum, notably Hypericum perforatum .- Occurrence :...

 or both, although there may be some 24 known possible active constituents. Many herbalists believe that the active ingredient in a plant is the plant itself.

See also

  • Formulation
    Formulation may refer to:* Clinical formulation* Formulations * Formulation science* Pharmaceutical formulation:** Galenic formulation* Pesticide formulation...

  • Medication
    A pharmaceutical drug, also referred to as medicine, medication or medicament, can be loosely defined as any chemical substance intended for use in the medical diagnosis, cure, treatment, or prevention of disease.- Classification :...

  • Pharmakos
    A Pharmakós in Ancient Greek religion was a kind of human scapegoat who was chosen and expelled from the community at times of disaster or at times of calendrical crisis, when purification was needed...

  • Regulation of therapeutic goods
    Regulation of therapeutic goods
    The regulation of therapeutic goods, that is drugs and therapeutic devices, varies by jurisdiction. In some countries, such as the United States, they are regulated at the national level by a single agency...

External links

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