Excipients in Polymeric Drug Delivery and Formulations - Pharmaceutical Technology

Latest Issue

Latest Issue
PharmTech Europe

Excipients in Polymeric Drug Delivery and Formulations
A roundtable with John Doney, Jiao Yang, Hans Baer, and Elena Draganoiu.

Pharmaceutical Technology

Given the potential for formulation flexibility, pharmaceuticists are practicing multiple technologies to produce solid solution/dispersions. Many methods have been reported and reviewed in the literature, including: spray drying, hot-melt extrusion, melt congelation, spray freezing into liquid, and nanocrystal technology. These methods impose their own restrictions on polymer selection and formulation, resulting in different physical properties. Melt-extrusion methods can produce dense compositions. But, due to the requirement for polymer softening upon heating, the cooled extrudate may be tacky and difficult to pulverize (3). In contrast, solvent-based spray drying can yield powders of good flowability but of low-bulk density, although new technologies are addressing this limitation. Additionally, special facilities are required to process and dispose of solvents. Because the amorphous form eliminates the energy barrier inherent in the crystal lattice, amorphous drug-polymer compositions can enhance aqueous solubility by fifty-fold or more (8, 9). As a result, water-insoluble NMEs can be formulated and evaluated for enhanced absorption, and ultimately efficacy. Formulation and process development, however, are needed to optimize final product attributes.

Although solid dispersions are well known to enhance aqueous solubility and bioavailability, their stability must be monitored to ensure product invariability with time and storage conditions. Crystalline solid dispersions may undergo Ostwald ripening, a thermodynamically driven process that can occur when the crystalline drug exists with a wide particle-size distribution. To reach thermodynamic equilibrium, mass is spontaneously transferred from small to large drug crystals to minimize the high surface energy of the small crystals (10). Proper polymer selection is critical to impede diffusion and inhibit any tendency for nucleation and crystal growth. Pure drug in the amorphous state often displays a high likelihood to recrystallize (11). Likewise, amorphous drug-polymer dispersions also may exhibit this solid-state instability. However, drug-polymer solid solutions can offer unique stability options (1, 9, 12). Understandably, the choice of polymer can strongly influence drug-polymer molecular interactions and the resulting physicochemical properties. In every case, stability testing of solid solutions/dispersions, including long-term and accelerated conditions under the International Conference on Harmonization standards is a must for these formulations. A new, promising approach is to use recrystallization kinetics to model nucleation and crystal growth rates in order to better understand the effects of formulation and process conditions on stability (13).

The chemical structure and amount of polymer play an important role in drug-polymer solid solutions and solid dispersions, enabling efficacious drug delivery and stability. Appropriate dispersibility of the dosage form, drug release, and absorption can be achieved with proper polymer selection. Without doubt, solid solutions and dispersions will provide greater application and serve as an irreplaceable technology to deliver the ever-increasing number of water-insoluble NMEs.

John Doney, PhD, is a manager of research and development, and Jiao Yang, PhD, is a research chemical engineer, at ISP Pharma Technologies.


1. K. Sekiguchi and N. Obi, "Studies on Absorption of Eutectic Mixture: A Comparison of the Behavior of Eutectic Mixture of Sulphathiazole and that of Ordinary Sulfathiazole in Man," Chem. Pharm. Bull. 9 (11), 866–872 (1961).

2. S. Riegelman, and W.L. Chiou, "Increasing the Absorption Rate of Insoluble Drugs," US Patent 4151273, 1978.

3. W. Dong, "Multiparticulate Drug Delivery System for Lipophilic Drugs and Macomolecules," PhD dissertation in Chemistry, Freie Universität, Berlin, 2005.

4. G.Verrek et al., "The Use of Three Different Solid Dispersion Formulations-Melt Extrusion, Film-Coated Beads, and a Glass Thermoplastic System-To Improve the Bioavailability of a Novel Microsomal Triglyceride Transfer Protein Inhibitor," J. Pharma. Sci. 93 (5), 1217–1228 (2004).

5. R.J. Pomerantz, "Combining Biomedical Research within Academia and Industry in the 21st Century," presented as the keynote address, American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, 2007.

6. Intelence, Full Prescribing Information, Tibotec, Inc., 2008.

7. W.L. Chiou and S. Riegelman, "Pharmaceutical Applications of Solid Dispersions," J. Pharm. Sci. 60 (9), 1281–1302 (1971).

8. N. Hirasawa, et al., "An Attempt to Stabilize Nilvadipine Solid Dispersion by the Use of Ternary Systems," Drug Devel. Ind. Pharm. 29 (9), 997–1004 (2003).

9. C. Leuner and J. Dressman, "Improving Drug Solubility for Oral Delivery Using Solid Dispersions," Eur. J. Pharm. Biopharm. 50 (1), 47–60 (2000).

10. J.Yang et al., "Distribution Kinetics of Polymer Crystallization and the Avrami Equation," J. Chem. Phys. 122 (6), 64901–64911 (2005).

11. M. Yoshioka et al., "Crystallization of Indomethacin from Amorphous State Below and Above Its Glass Transition Temperature," J. Pharm. Sci. 83 (12), 1700–1705 (1994).

12. M. Langer et al., "Investigations on the Predictability of the Formation of Glassy Solid Solutions of Drugs in Sugar Alcohols," Intl. J. Pharm. 252 (1–2), 67–179 (2002).

13. J. Yang et al., "An Improved Kinetics Model to Describe Drug Amorphous Stability," poster presented at the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, 2007.


blog comments powered by Disqus
LCGC E-mail Newsletters

Subscribe: Click to learn more about the newsletter
| Weekly
| Monthly
| Weekly

What role should the US government play in the current Ebola outbreak?
Finance development of drugs to treat/prevent disease.
Oversee medical treatment of patients in the US.
Provide treatment for patients globally.
All of the above.
No government involvement in patient treatment or drug development.
Finance development of drugs to treat/prevent disease.
Oversee medical treatment of patients in the US.
Provide treatment for patients globally.
All of the above.
No government involvement in patient treatment or drug development.
Jim Miller Outsourcing Outlook Jim MillerOutside Looking In
Cynthia Challener, PhD Ingredients Insider Cynthia ChallenerAdvances in Large-Scale Heterocyclic Synthesis
Jill Wechsler Regulatory Watch Jill Wechsler New Era for Generic Drugs
Sean Milmo European Regulatory WatchSean MilmoTackling Drug Shortages
New Congress to Tackle Health Reform, Biomedical Innovation, Tax Policy
Combination Products Challenge Biopharma Manufacturers
Seven Steps to Solving Tabletting and Tooling ProblemsStep 1: Clean
Legislators Urge Added Incentives for Ebola Drug Development
FDA Reorganization to Promote Drug Quality
Source: Pharmaceutical Technology,
Click here