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What is the difference between SR tablets and normal ones?

Q: What is the difference between sustained-time released tablets and normal ones? I am asking in case of Atenolol and Alprazolam.

A:Normal preparations are absorbed into the human body as soon as the tablets/capsules are consumed. Depending upon its chemical property, the medicine is excreted or inactivated within hours. The problem with normal preparations are: 1. They have to be taken frequently anywhere from 2 to 6 times per day depending upon the drug and 2. Their action lasts for few hours and hence the medicine is not there during the entire 24 hours. These days, therefore, medical science prefers to use slow-release (also called sustained-release (SR), controlled-release etc.) medicines, particularly in those conditions where long-duration and/or 24-hour coverage is required. Needless to say that such preparations are only useful when the normal dosing is more than once a day. For those medicines where the dose for normal tablet is once daily, there is no need for sustained-release preparations. For example Atenolol can be taken once, or at the most twice daily; hence, there is no need for sustained release prepraration. On the other hand Alprazolam needs to be taken 2-3 times daily; hence it is far better to use a long-acting product such as Alprocontin (marketed by Modi-Mundipharma). The technology required to make long-acting preparations is fairly sophisticated. Unfortunately, due to lax laws in India, all sorts of manufacturers who do not have access to proven technology are claiming and marketing so-called long-acting and slow-release preparations. Therefore, one should patronize only those brands that are known to possess the appropriate technology.

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