What are active ingredients and inactive ingredients?
An active ingredient (also called an active pharmaceutical ingredient, or API) is the drug
itself - the part of a medication that does what the product is designed to do. It is intended
to provide what is called "pharmacological activity." Active ingredients affect either the
structure or the function of the body when given to prevent or treat a disease or health
condition. In short, they are the ingredient or ingredients responsible for the therapeutic
action of the medication.
Inactive ingredients, on the other hand, are needed to create the medication's formulation - which could be liquid, pill, capsule, or another form. They are not intended to provide any therapeutic action. Also called excipients, inactive ingredients in drugs are the substances that make up the tablet form or the capsule enclosing the medication, for example, or the liquid in which the API is suspended.
A placebo drug, for instance, contains no active ingredients, only inactive ingredients.
Learn more about your medication.
Have a more specific question?
Sign in or register to ask a Walgreens pharmacist.