A look to the future
Advances within the industry are making it easier for drugmakers to surmount the challenges of developing and producing multiparticulates,
however. The emergence of technologies such as melt granulation has increased the number of manufacturing options and expanded
the kinds of drugs that can be made as multiparticulates. "Expertise has become more widespread in the industry and is no
longer confined to a few innovators," says Oakley. "Pelletized drug products have become a viable option," he adds.
Recent history could indicate that multiparticulates are poised to become more popular with pharmaceutical manufacturers.
"We saw a steady increase in the number of projects using multiparticulates, especially in the past five years," says Rubino.
Multiparticulates are attractive to pharmaceutical companies looking for new dosage forms for their existing drugs. They can
enable line extensions that could yield drugmakers more revenue, she adds. Developing multiparticulate dosage forms also could
provide commercial differentiation for a product and present a market barrier to competing companies.
In addition, firms are coming to appreciate the flexibility that the dosage form offers them. Multiparticulates enable companies
to create various strengths of a given drug more easily than is possible with traditional tablets. Because they permit drugmakers
to create a wide array of release profiles and to combine otherwise incompatible drugs within one dosage form, multiparticulates
expand the formulation possibilities for many active pharmaceutical ingredients.
In addition, the clinical advantages of multiparticulate delivery have increased their popularity with manufacturers and patients
alike. Particulate-filled capsules and tablets are highly accepted and often preferred by patients, who view them as a more
advanced technology than conventional compressed tablets, says Oakley.
The commercial advantages, flexibility in formulation, clinical improvements, and patient acceptance that multiparticulates
entail make it likely that the pharmaceutical industry will pursue this dosage form more actively for its new and established
drugs in the coming years.
1.Medco Health Solutions, 2010 Drug Trend Report: Solving the Healthcare Cost/Quality Equation (Medco, Franklin Lakes, NJ, 2010), p. 30.