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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jul 6, 2023.

Excipient (pharmacologically inactive substance)

What is it?

Povidone (polyvinylpyrrolidone, PVP) is used in the pharmaceutical industry as a synthetic polymer vehicle for dispersing and suspending drugs. It also acts as a disintegrant and tablet binder. It appears as white to off-white hygroscopic powder in its pure form and is readily soluble in water. Povidone has the molecular formula of (C6H9NO)n. Povidone formulations are widely used in the pharmaceutical industry due to their ability to dissolve in both water and oil solvents.[1]

Povidone’s most common use is in the topical povidone-iodine solution (Aerodine, Betadine), where iodine is released as an antiseptic. Povidone-iodine is often used to prevent surgical incision infections. Povidone has also been used as blood volume expander and as an antibacterial in dental procedures. Chlorhexidine-alcohol is also used topically as a pre-operative surgical antiseptic and has been shown in one study to have slightly better antimicrobial activity.[2]

List of medications using Povidone


  1. [1]Dave RH. Overview of pharmaceutical excipients used in tablets and capsules. Drug Topics (online). Advanstar. 10/24/2008 Accessed 08/19/2011
  2. Rabih, et al. Chlorhexidine-alcohol versus povidone-iodine for surgical-site antisepsis. NEJM 2010:362:18-26.

Further information

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