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What is stopping medicine from getting to people who need it?

Making medicine is a long and complicated process. And the real issue these days is that the challenge doesn’t even finish once the drug is tested, approved and made.

No, the real challenge comes from those two things which we fear the most – sunlight and fragile chemical structures. And especially fragile chemical structures exposed to sunlight.

Guess how it’s dealt with?

(hint, answer contains titanium dioxide)

Match made in hell: Sunlight and medicine

Our medicine is, luckily, becoming more and more advanced and we can cure more and more diseases with it.

However, it is also based on increasingly complex chemistry and is often made from very fragile substances. We need to be able to count on these substances not spoiling, breaking or dissolving on the way to the people that need it.

Put it this way, if you get handed a pill glass with a gooey, indivisible substance in it, it would be impossible to follow the doctor’s orders and take your “two pills three times per day”. It would be gross and it would be difficult and all of a sudden maybe you would rather take your chances with being ill. Put simply, the drug might be great, but if the pill doesn’t have the right consistency, colour and form, it’s not worth a whole lot. TiO2 is used to make pills a consistent color so that when we are ill we can quickly identify the right one.

Luckily, we can control the exact particle size of additive components like titanium dioxide to make pills and other medicine stable, consistent and safe. When you use titanium dioxide in the pills’ coating, it helps to protect them better from sunlight and UV rays, helping to protect the fragile substances they contain from being damaged by sunlight.

If not for science like this, our pills could dissolve or ‘get sunburned’ before we have the chance to swallow them and that headache that you’re nursing wouldn’t get any better. 

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