Active Ingredients

Hydrochloride – Effect, Application & Risks


Hydrochlorides are salts consisting of organic bases that react with hydrochloric acid . Thus, hydrochlorides also belong to the amines of the primary, secondary and tertiary type. It is always typical of hydrochlorides that they enter into a neutralization reaction with hydrochloric acid. Due to their chemical properties, hydrochlorides are a popular additive in numerous medicines.

What are hydrochlorides?

Hydrochlorides are basically salts consisting of organic bases and hydrochloric acid. As part of a chemical reaction, the bases are neutralized with the hydrochloric acid. The typical reaction to form hydrochloride is similar to the formation process of ammonium chloride, where ammonia and hydrochloric acid react with each other. In principle, all hydrochlorides have a chloride atom and are therefore classified as salts. The parent compounds of the hydrochlorides are in most cases amines.

Unlike the amines , however, hydrochlorides are generally characterized by significantly better water solubility. In addition, purification of hydrochlorides is easier, with recrystallization being used. Hydrochlorides, which belong to the amines, are characterized by higher stability and age considerably more slowly. The degradation resistance is shown above all by the color of the hydrochloride. These advantages of the hydrochloride are particularly evident when compared to amines, which are free and basic.

In chemistry, hydrochlorides are divided into monohydrochlorides and dihydrochlorides, among others. Monohydrochlorides are mainly formed from di- and triamines as a result of a reaction with hydrochloric acid. On the other hand, dihydrochlorides are formed when organic diamines react with an excess of hydrochloric acid. Typical dihydrochlorides are, for example, meclozine, arsphenamine and sapropterin. In addition, hydrochlorides belong to the hydrohalides. Other representatives of this category of chemical substances are, for example, hydrobromides and hydrofluorides.

Pharmacological effect on body & organs

Hydrochlorides are characterized by very good solubility in water and high bioavailability in the human organism. For this reason, they are used in numerous medical drugs to increase the effectiveness of the corresponding drugs. Pharmaceutical manufacturers produce the drugs directly in the form of hydrochlorides.

The highly water-soluble hydrochlorides facilitate the production of aqueous medicines and solutions, such as eye drops , injection solutions and nasal sprays . Solubility in water also plays a decisive role in pharmaceuticals that are to be taken orally, since the stomach and intestines can only absorb the active ingredients if they are water-soluble. The active substances are released from the tablets or coated tablets, so that absorption is then possible. This means that the drugs enter the bloodstream more quickly.

Properties such as the high stability and the good processing possibilities of the hydrochlorides are also relevant for their extensive use in the manufacture of medicines. Hundreds of different hydrochlorides are currently used regularly in pharmacy. Ambroxol and metformin , for example, are particularly popular and in high demand on the basis of hydrochlorides .

Medicinal Application & Use for Treatment & Prevention

Hydrochlorides are used in a large number of medicines, whereby their typical properties improve or even make it possible for the active ingredients to be absorbed in the first place. The decisive aspects for the use of hydrochlorides in the production of medicinal substances are their stability and water solubility. On the one hand, these aspects facilitate the production of aqueous solutions such as drops or sprays. On the other hand, hydrochlorides improve the absorption capacity of active ingredients that patients take in the form of solid tablets or capsules.

The European Pharmacopoeia currently lists around 200 hydrochlorides that are used in pharmaceutical production. The medicinal substance catalog even contains over 1,000 different hydrochlorides. The use of hydrochlorides to manufacture the drugs ambroxol and metformin, both of which are in high demand, is particularly popular.

Risks & side effects

The side effects of hydrochlorides depend primarily on the drug in question, for the manufacture of which they form the basis. Hydrochlorides are often used, for example, in the drugs ambroxol and metformin. Ambroxol is a drug for coughs associated with thick mucus that is stuck in the airways . Hydrochlorides form the basis for this active ingredient and its absorption into the blood .

Possible side effects include general symptoms such as nausea , vomiting and diarrhea as well as abdominal pain . Some people experience hypersensitivity reactions such as skin rashes , itching , shortness of breath and swelling of the face . Sometimes patients develop fever and chills . Symptoms such as toxic epidermal necrolysis , Stevens-Johnson syndrome or erythema multiforme are rare .

Hydrochlorides also form the basis of the drug metformin. Doctors prescribe the drug primarily for type 2 diabetes mellitus . Potential side effects include, for example, digestive tract problems . Some people develop symptoms such as nausea , diarrhea , abdominal pain or vomiting . In addition, the perception of taste sometimes changes , so that some patients lose their appetite .

Rarely, people develop lactic acidosis after ingestion . This manifests itself in aching muscles , complaints of the gastrointestinal tract and cramps .

The hydrochlorides themselves are far less responsible for side effects than the actual active ingredients of the drugs in which they are used. When developing drugs, pharmaceutical manufacturers check whether there are undesirable interactions between the hydrochloride used and the active ingredient.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.