This article will look at the difference between sustained release and extended release and set you on the path toward an informed decision.

sustained release tablets

Comparing Sustained Release and Extended Release to Other Types

Sustained release and extended release are relative terms. Before we discuss extended release vs. sustained release, it would be helpful to understand the other types of medication they're compared to.

Immediate Release (IR)

Immediate-release tablets are exactly what they sound like. The medication is released soon after the pills are ingested. The drug works quickly over a short period. When IR tablets are prescribed, patients are often required to take several doses daily to ensure a constant supply of medication.

Controlled Release (CR)

Controlled-release tablets are a type of medication designed to gradually release a drug into a patient's system over a certain period. This differs from conventional immediate-release tablets that release their active ingredients as soon as they are ingested.

Controlled-release systems can maintain a constant drug concentration over a prolonged period, reduce the frequency of dosing, minimize side effects and enhance the efficacy of the medication. They can be especially useful in place of drugs that need to be taken several times a day or for conditions that require a constant level of medicine in the bloodstream.

Ambien CR is one example of a controlled-release drug. While Ambien IR can wear off before the night ends, Ambien CR delivers a constant rate of medication, ensuring a good night's sleep from start to finish.

The design of CR tablets can vary greatly, with some utilizing different drug coatings, materials or technologies to control the rate, location or timing of drug release.

Delayed Release (DR)

Delayed-release drugs are designed to release the active ingredient later than immediately after administration. This delay could be based on a certain period after ingestion or until the drug reaches a specific part of the gastrointestinal tract. The design of delayed-release tablets allows the medication to bypass certain areas of the digestive system, which can be beneficial for drugs that are destroyed by stomach acids or for medicines that can irritate the stomach lining.

One example of a DR drug is sulfasalazine DR, used to treat ulcerative colitis.

While delayed-release formulations are designed to control when the drug is released, they don't necessarily control the rate at which it is released once the delay period has ended. In other words, once the drug is released, it may spread rapidly or all at once, differentiating these formulations from sustained-release and extended-release tablets.

Pulse Release

Pulse-release drugs, also known as pulsatile-release drugs, are a type of medication designed to release the active ingredients in a predetermined pattern over a specific period. This can involve one or more "pulses" of drug release to mimic the body's natural rhythms, respond to a particular physiological need or optimize the drug's therapeutic effect and minimize side effects.

The release mechanism can be designed to respond to a variety of factors. For example, it can be programmed based on time (time-controlled release), or it can react to specific physiological signals such as pH changes in different parts of the gastrointestinal tract (pH-dependent release) or the presence of certain enzymes or substances in the body (chemically-induced release).

This type of drug delivery system can be particularly beneficial for conditions that follow a circadian rhythm (like rheumatoid arthritis, where symptoms are often worse in the morning) or for situations that require a burst of medication at specific times (like peptic ulcer disease, which might require a release of drug in response to a rise in gastric acidity).

One example of a pulse-release drug is Prednisone chronotherapy for rheumatoid arthritis. The prednisone is formulated to release the drug in the early morning hours when symptoms are most severe.

extended release tablets

Sustained-Release and Extended-Release Tablets

While some companies differentiate between the two types, at UPM Pharmaceuticals, there is no difference between sustained release and extended release; we use the two terms interchangeably.

The main goal of extended-release tablets is to maintain an appropriate concentration of the drug in the body, thereby providing a prolonged therapeutic effect. This is achieved by using different pharmaceutical manufacturing technologies that control the rate at which the drug is released from the tablet. These can include special coatings, matrix systems or encapsulation techniques.

By reducing the number of doses needed, sustained-release tablets can improve patient compliance with their medication regimen. They can also help minimize side effects that can occur when drug levels in the body peak and trough, as can happen with immediate-release formulations.

Examples of extended-release tablets include certain formulations of common medications like metoprolol (a beta-blocker used for treating high blood pressure), venlafaxine (an antidepressant) and theophylline (used for respiratory diseases like asthma).

FAQS: Sustained-Release and Extended-Release Tablets

Now that we've discussed extended release vs. sustained release, let's look at a few other questions about sustained and extended release tablets. As a leader in controlled release technologies, UPM Pharmaceuticals is well-positioned to provide the answers you're looking for. Read on to learn more.

What Are Extended-Release Tablets?

Extended-release tablets are medications that release their drugs over a sustained period.

How Does Extended Release Work?

Extended-release tablets can work by several methods. For example, some release medications at specific times, while others release active ingredients in the presence of certain substances in the body.

What Are the Advantages of Extended-Release Tablets?

Extended-release tablets provide several advantages. They can minimize drug side effects and boost patient compliance with medication regimens.


Trust UPM Pharmaceuticals for your Sustained-Release Tablets

The pharmaceutical industry is large and only expected to grow. It's forecast to reach $1.9 trillion by 2027. Sustained-release and extended-release tablets will play an essential role in that trend. Backed by years of expertise, UPM Pharmaceuticals has the experience you want in your extended-release tablet partner. Contact us today to put our knowledge to work for you.