It is tasteless and odorless, or might have a slight odor of acetic acid.

Cellulose acetate phthalate is a hygroscopic, white to off-white, freeflowing powder, granule, or flake. It is tasteless and odorless, or might have a slight odor of acetic acid.

Nonproprietary Names

  • BP: Cellacefate
  • JP: Cellacefate
  • PhEur: Cellulose Acetate Phthalate
  • USP-NF: Cellacefate


Acetyl phthalyl cellulose; Aquacoat cPD; CAP; cellacephate; cellulose acetate benzene-1,2-dicarboxylate; cellulose acetate hydrogen 1,2-benzenedicarboxylate; cellulose acetate hydrogen phthalate; cellulose acetate monophthalate; cellulose acetophthalate; cellulose acetylphthalate; cellulosi acetas phthalas.

Chemical Name and CAS Registry Number
Cellulose, acetate, 1, 2-benzenedicarboxylate [9004-38-0]

Empirical Formula and Molecular Weight

Cellulose acetate phthalate is a cellulose in which about half the hydroxyl groups are acetylated, and about a quarter are esterified with one of two acid groups being phthalic acid, where the remaining acid group is free.

Functional Category: Coating agent.

Applications in Pharmaceutical Formulation or Technology

Cellulose acetate phthalate (CAP) is used as an enteric film coating material, or as a matrix binder for tablets and capsules. Such coatings resist prolonged contact with the strongly acidic gastric fluid, but dissolve in the mildly acidic or neutral intestinal environment.

Cellulose acetate phthalate is commonly applied to solid-dosage forms either by coating from organic or aqueous solvent systems, or by direct compression. Concentrations generally used are 0.5–9.0% of the core weight. The addition of plasticizers improves the water resistance of this coating material, and formulations using such plasticizers are more effective than when cellulose acetate phthalate is used alone.

Cellulose acetate phthalate is compatible with many plasticizers, including acetylated monoglyceride; butyl phthalybutyl glycolate; dibutyl tartrate; diethyl phthalate; dimethyl phthalate; ethyl phthalylethyl glycolate; glycerin; propylene glycol; triacetin; triacetin citrate; and tripropionin. It is also used in combination with other coating agents such as ethyl cellulose, in drug controlledrelease preparations.

Therapeutically, cellulose acetate phthalate has recently been reported to exhibit experimental microbicidal activity against sexually transmitted disease pathogens, such as the HIV-1 retrovirus.

Method of Manufacture

Cellulose acetate phthalate is produced by reacting the partial acetate ester of cellulose with phthalic anhydride in the presence of a tertiary organic base such as pyridine, or a strong acid such as sulfuric acid.