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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 27, 2023.

Excipient (pharmacologically inactive substance)

What is it?

There are four types of alcohol: methyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol, propyl alcohol and butyl alcohol. Ethyl alcohol, or ethanol (C2H5OH), is the type used in the production of alcoholic beverages. The other three types, methyl, propyl and butyl alcohol, if consumed can result in blindness and death, even in relatively small doses.

Alcohol, (C2H6O), also known as ethyl alcohol or ethanol, is the intoxicating agent found in beer, wine and liquor. Alcohol is produced by fermentation of yeast, sugars, and starches. Fruits such as grapes, and grains like barley and wheat are most commonly used for wine, beer and liquors. Other plants, such as the cactus or sugar cane may be used in liquor production.[1] Alcohol is used as a solvent and vehicle in a variety of medications, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Alcohol is used in the pharmaceutical industry in a variety of manufacturing processes. It has bactericidal activity and is often used as a topical disinfectant, especially in alcohol gel for hands. It is also widely used as a solvent and preservative in pharmaceutical preparations.[2]

List of medications using Alcohol


  1. Alcohol. Accessed 8/17/2012.
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compund. Ethanol.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.