Excipients: Learning outcomes

Last updated: Sunday, December 10, 2023

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to:
  • Identify the excipients in a medicine.
  • Decide whether a patient's allergy, intolerance, or other reaction is caused by an excipient.
  • Adopt a practical approach to managing reactions to excipients, and be able to advise other professionals about them.

You can download a PDF of the whole tutorial (without interactive elements such as the Learning exercises) and a one-page summary of key points.

You should allow 60 minutes to complete this tutorial, including the Learning exercises.


If you are a hospital trainee pharmacist, this tutorial may help you achieve GPhC learning outcomes such as these:

  • LO 2 Work in partnership with people to support and empower them in shared decision-making about their health and well-being
  • LO 5 Proactively support people to make safe and effective use of their medicines and devices
  • LO 12 Take an all-inclusive approach to ensure the most appropriate course of action based on clinical, legal and professional considerations
  • LO 16 Apply professional judgement in all circumstances, taking legal and ethical reasoning into account
  • LO 29 Apply the principles of clinical therapeutics, pharmacology and genomics to make effective use of medicines for people [including in their prescribing practice]
  • LO 30  Appraise the evidence base and apply clinical reasoning and professional judgement to make safe and logical decisions which minimise risk and optimise outcomes for the person

If you are a hospital foundation pharmacist, this topic may help you meet competencies from the RPS framework including:

  • 1.1 Applies evidence-based clinical knowledge to make suitable recommendations or take appropriate actions 
  • 1.6 Uses own pharmaceutical knowledge to positively impact the usage and stewardship of medicines at an individual and population level.
  • 1.7 Undertakes a holistic clinical review of a person’s medicines to ensure they are appropriate.
  • 2.1 Keeps the individual at the centre of their approach to care at all times.
  • 3.1 Draws upon own knowledge and up-to-date guidance to effectively make decisions appropriately and with confidence.
  • 3.2 Critically appraises appropriate information to make a decision in an efficient and systematic manner; adopts evidence-informed solutions.
  • 3.3 Demonstrate awareness of where to seek appropriate information to solve problems and make decisions. 
  • 3.5 Manages uncertainty and possible risk appropriately, while ensuring high attention to detail is maintained when making decisions regarding the individual receiving care.
  • 6.5 Uses effective questioning when working with individuals receiving care or other healthcare professionals.

Continuing professional development

Finally, here is a CPD activity you could consider:

★  Next time you encounter a patient who has intolerance or allergy to an excipient, see if you can interview them. You could ask how difficult it is to avoid the excipient in practice, how it affects their lifestyle, and whether medicines cause them any particular problems. Write a CPD entry on what you have learned to help improve your approach to this kind of patient in the future.