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Figure 4: Images of a Jelly without (left) and with incorporation of sustained release micropellets (right).

Abstract

Patients with dysphagia may have obstacles to swallow tablets or large multiparticulates. The former dosage form can even not be crushed in case that the tablet exhibits a modified release or taste-masking profile through outer layering. As a solution, so called jelly formulations may be a valuable attempt. Jellies are delivery vehicles incorporating sustained release microparticles for patients with dysphagia. This case study investigates a modified release formulation based on Gliclazide. Gliclazide is used to treat diabetes mellitus type 2. In combination with selected excipients, a jelly-like appearance is composed. Micropellets made of microcrystalline cellulose (Cellets®) are used as API carrier systems.

Goals and Formulation of a Gliclazide drug

The goal is to investigate a revolutionary method for geriatrics with dysphagia or potentially for paediatrics based on jelly-like formulations. The formulation should carry an API such as Gliclazide and show a modified release profile.

Free-standing jellies are formulated by mixing sodium alginate (0.5 % w/v with another polymer, and 1 % w/v w/o polymer), with an aqueous solution of dicalcium phosphate dihydrate (0.1-1 % w/v).

Soft granular jellies are formulated by preparing an aqueous sodium alginate (0.5-2 % w/v) solution with or without the presence of another polymer and by later adding an aqueous calcium chloride solution (0.1-0.3 % w/v).

Figure 1: Image of MCC micropellets (Cellets® 100).

Figure 1: Image of MCC micropellets (Cellets® 100).

MCC micropellets (Cellets® 100, Figure 1) are used as drug carriers. Gliclazide is layered onto the starter beads using a Wurster fluidized bed coater (Mini-Glatt, Glatt GmbH, Germany), so that a 50 % drug loading weight gain was reached. The overall final drug load including the functional layer is 21 % w/w. The composition of the layering suspension is given in Table 1.

Material QTY
Starter pellet: Cellets® 100 100 g
API: Gliclazide 10 % w/w
Aqueous vehicle for API:
  Hypromellose 1 % w/w
  Talc 1.9 % w/w
Coating of API layered pellets:
  Water  
  Eudragit® NM 30 D  
  Talc  
Functional coating:  
  Magnesium stearate  
  Silicon dioxide  

Table 1: Formulation for Gliclazide layered starter pellets: starter pellets, aqueous API layering, release profile coating, functional coating.

Although the formulation contains several coating and layering processes, the processed micropellets stay smooth in surface, show a high sphericity and narrow size distribution.

Size distribution and dissolution profiles of Gliclazide microparticles

Polymer coated micropellets with CL25 (coating level 25 %) are shown in  Figure 2. The yield of polymer coating and the final D50 values of the micropellets are displayed in Table 2.

Figure 2: SEM image of layered Gliclazide sustained release micropellets with a weight gain at 25 % (CL25).

Figure 2: SEM image of layered Gliclazide sustained release micropellets with a weight gain at 25 % (CL25).

Depending on the polymer coating, micropellets show a different Gliclazide release profile as shown in Figure 3: With increasing weight gain, the dynamics of Gliclazide release are slowed down. A comparison to Diamicron SR tablets in a pH 7.4 phosphate buffer, the CL25 formulation results in an adequate release profile.

Micropellet Size D50 [µm] Yield [%]
Starter pellet (Cellets® 100) 160 ± 2.1  
Micropellet at CL16 173 ± 3.6 98.4
Micropellet at CL20 185 ± 2.4 99.3
Micropellet at CL25 198 ± 4.3 99.0
Micropellet at CL60 208 ± 6.7 98.7

Table 2: Particle size of the micropellets with and without layering. CL = coating level / weight gain in [%]. The yield for the polymer coatings at respective weight gains.

Figure 3: Gliclazide release from layered micropellets at coating levels 16 % (filled diamond), 20 % (open circles), 25 % (filled squares) and 60 % (filled circles) and the commercial Diamicron SR tablets (open squares) in phosphate buffer pH 7.4.

Figure 3: Gliclazide release from layered micropellets at coating levels 16 % (filled diamond), 20 % (open circles), 25 % (filled squares) and 60 % (filled circles) and the commercial Diamicron SR tablets (open squares) in phosphate buffer pH 7.4.

Incorporation of the Gliclazide microparticles into jellies

The incorporation of sustained release Gliclazide microparticles into the Jellies is realized through mixing the required quantity of microparticles with polymers (sodium alginate or polymer mixture).

Sodium alginate is known to form gels in the presence of calcium ions at room temperature. Depending on the formulation, granular jellies (soft and easy to flow) or free-standing jellies (“ready-to-eat”) are formed. Formulations of jellies with and without API layered micropellets are shown in Figure 4. Incorporating the micropellets into the jellies did not cause a visual change in color or appearance. The API was kept inside the jellies. Also physical-chemical properties such as the gel strength, the texture, and the oral transit time in an in-vitro swallowing simulator are remained unchanged.

Figure 4: Images of a Jelly without (left) and with incorporation of sustained release micropellets (right).

Figure 4: Images of a Jelly without (left) and with incorporation of sustained release micropellets (right).

Figure 4: Images of a Jelly without (left) and with incorporation of sustained release micropellets (right).

A release profile of Gliclazide with a coating level of 25 % in a jelly formation is shown in Figure 5. In comparison to a reference release profile of a Diamicron 30 mg SR tablet, the coated micropellets show a competitive behavior as already discussed in Figure 3. After incorporating into the jelly formation, the release profile is decaying. Obviously, the intact and also the fragmented jelly formulation show comparable dynamics. In order to obtain a comparable release profile than with the non-formulated micropellets, a coating level of down to 20 % is required.

Figure 5: Gliclazide release from coated microparticles and in combination with Jellies in a pH 7.4 phosphate buffer. Diamicron 30 mg SR tablet (open triangle), no jelly at CL25 (closed triangle), jelly formulation (intact) incorporated with CL25 (closed circle), jelly formulation (fragmented) incorporated with CL25 (open circle), jelly formulation (intact) with CL20 (open square).

Figure 5: Gliclazide release from coated microparticles and in combination with Jellies in a pH 7.4 phosphate buffer. Diamicron 30 mg SR tablet (open triangle), no jelly at CL25 (closed triangle), jelly formulation (intact) incorporated with CL25 (closed circle), jelly formulation (fragmented) incorporated with CL25 (open circle), jelly formulation (intact) with CL20 (open square).

Summary

Sustained release Gliclazide micropellets with a final particle size D50 of less than 200 µm are successfully formulated with a 99 % production yield and adjustable drug release profiles.

The micropellets are based on Cellets® 100 and present an excellent surface smoothness, high sphericity and narrow size distribution. They were successfully incorporated in jelly formulations. This novel drug delivery platform is a suitable vehicle for the administration of sustained release microparticles. It is a valuable attempt to replace the commonly used thickened fluids for dysphagia patients.

Acknowledgement

Dr. Fang Liu and her team are gratefully acknowledged for serving content for this note.

Fluid Pharma logo

Fluid Pharma Ltd

Contact: Dr. Fang LIU

College Lane, Hatfield, AL10 9AB, UK

Tel: +44 1707 28 4273

+44 796 3230 628

www.fluidpharma.com

References

[1] S. Patel et al., Journal of Pharmaceutical 109 (2020) 2474-2484.

Figure 2: SEM image of drug loaded and coated starter beads. Particles show a high level of homogeneity in size distribution.

Abstract

Modified drug release formulations for suspensions are a perfect solution for children and patients with swallowing difficulties. In many cases, these formulations are based on pellets serving as starter beads. In this report, an attempt on microparticle coating by Mohylyuk et al. [1] is described. Herein, small scaled microcrystalline cellulose pellets (Cellets® 90 and Cellets® 100, Table 1) in the size range smaller than 150 µm are used. Through a modified Wurster fluidized bed process, a yield of 99 % was reached.

Starter materials PSD (> 85 %)
Cellets® 90 63-125 μm
Cellets® 100 100-200 µm

Table 1: Size distribution of Cellets® as starter beads in this formulation.

Goals and Formulation

The goal is to investigate a revolutionary platform for sustained-release microencapsulation using the industrial fluidized bed coating technology. Significant challenges of particle cohesion in the process shall be avoided by applying a small quantity of dry powder glidant periodically during the coating process. A highly water-soluble drug, which is metoprolol succinate, is reproducibly microencapsulated on pellet technologies with total pellet sizes of less than 200 µm and a drug release time of 20 hours.

Excipients for extended release profiles

For obtaining a sustained release profile, polymethacrylate-based copolymers, Eudragit RS/RL® 30 D and Eudragit® NM 30 D, were used in combination with a range of anti-tacking agents. The coating onto placebo Cellets® 100 starter beads was performed in a fluidized bed coater with a Wurster insert (Mini-Glatt, Glatt GmbH, Germany) in order to analyze the release profile. Process parameters are shown in Table 2. A small quantity of dry powder glidant was periodically added during processing, so that particle cohesion was eliminated. The optimized excipient composition for the desired release profile is achieved by testing 10 different compositions.

Parameter Value
Inlet air temperature
 Eudragit RS/RL® 30 D 35-40 °C
 Eudragit® NM 30 D 30-35 °C
Product temperature
 Eudragit RS/RL® 30 D 25-30 °C
 Eudragit® NM 30 D 18-20 °C
air flow rate 18 m3/h
Atomization pressure 1.5 bar
Spray rate 1.1-2.4 g/min

Table 2: Process parameter for a fluidized bed coater with a Wurster insert. A sustained release drug layer is coated onto placebo Cellets® 100 starter beads.

Drug coating

For drug coating, Cellets® 90 were layered with a suspension of metoprolol succinate in a composition as shown in Table 3.

Material Concentration (w/w)
Metoprolol succinate 22.8 %
Hypromellose 0.6 %
talc (Pharma M) 4.0 %
Deionized water 72.6 %

Table 3: Composition of metoprolol succinate suspension for drug layering onto Cellets® 90.

The metoprolol succinate-loaded Cellets® 90 microparticles were successfully coated with the Eudragit® NM 30 D based aqueous dispersion, achieving a high product yield of 99 % and a final particle size of less than 200 µm (D50 value).

Figure 1: Size distribution of Cellets® 90 as uncoated (empty squares), drug loaded (filled diamonds) and drug loaded and coated (filled circles) particles.

Figure 1: Size distribution of Cellets® 90 as uncoated (empty squares), drug loaded (filled diamonds) and drug loaded and coated (filled circles) particles.

The API loaded and coated starter beads are of high sphericity and show a homogeneous and narrow size distribution, which is shown as a SEM (scanning electron microscope) image in Figure 2.

In dissolution tests, an extended release time of up to 20 hours is obtained and can still be varied by the composition of excipients (Figure 3).

Figure 2: SEM image of drug loaded and coated starter beads. Microparticles show a high level of homogeneity in size distribution.

Figure 2: SEM image of drug loaded and coated starter beads. Microparticles show a high level of homogeneity in size distribution.

Figure 3: Drug release profiles of three batches of metoprolol succinate loaded and coated Cellets. An extended release of 20 hours is obtained.

Figure 3: Drug release profiles of three batches of metoprolol succinate loaded and coated Cellets. An extended release of 20 hours is obtained.

Summary

This case study is a short abstract of the publication on microparticle coating by Mohylyuk et al. [1], highlighting the proof of concept for reproducible microencapsulation of a highly water-soluble drug by applying a small quantity of dry powder glidant periodically during Wurster fluidized bed coating. The challenge of particle cohesion in the “down flow” zone was eliminated and a high product yields up to 99% was achieved.

Coated microparticles are in size of less than 200 μm and show a 20 hours sustained drug release profile. These conditions allow the usage in liquid suspensions. Furthermore, the applied technology is scalable. In conclusion, this displays a sustained-release dosage solution, which is suitable for paediatrics and geriatrics with swallowing difficulties.

Acknowledgement

Dr. Fang Liu and her team are gratefully acknowledged for serving content and data for this note.

Fluid Pharma logo

Fluid Pharma Ltd

Contact: Dr. Fang LIU

College Lane, Hatfield, AL10 9AB, UK

Tel: +44 1707 28 4273

+44 796 3230 628

www.fluidpharma.com

References

[1] V. Mohylyuk et al., AAPS PharmSciTech (2020) 21:3

Coating uniformity of hot-melt coated particles Figure 2 (pure)

Abstract

Coating uniformity is a critical parameter in coating processes in novel pharmaceutical formulations. Speaking about pellet technology, coating and layering are the main methods for implementing drug functionalities, such as modified release of the active, taste-masking properties and further more. Coating uniformity guaranties not only upholding functionalities of the formulation, but also prevent risks such as dose dumping.

This application note is based on a publication of Wörthmann et al. [1] and focuses on selected aspects which are related to starter cores.

Cellets 1000, magnification 100x

Figure 1: Microscopic image of Cellets® 1000, magnification 100x.

Materials and techniques

Coating was applied on highly spherical starter cores Cellets® 1000 (Figure 1). The pellets have a relatively narrow size distribution with a mean particle size of d­­­­50 = 1197 μm, a standard deviation of σ = 113 μm, and particle density of 1.4 g/cm3. For analyzing the coating uniformity, stearin (54 % stearic acid and palmitic acid) and hydrogenated palm oil were used. For the hot-melt coating experiments a lab-scale Wurster fluidized bed was used. The overspray rate was estimated to 8 % (w/w). Processed particles were analyzed by image analysis (Figure 2) and micro-computed-tomography (μCT) (Figure 3). 2D and 3D software analysis were further conducted for the evaluation of the sphere dimension, layer thickness and coating uniformity.

Figure 2 shows a wax-coated particle, where the coating thickness varies and delamination is clearly visible (Figure 3). Small pores and fractions of the coating layer area are obvious.

Coating uniformity of hot-melt coated particles Figure 1

Figure 2: Images of coated pellets are used for a stepwise evaluation of the particle shell thickness. A: original image; B: segmented coating layer. Further software calculation steps are not shown here.

These undesired artefacts result from imperfect parameters, such as spreading mechanism, temperature fluctuations, viscosity, or drop size.

The coating layer thickness is analyzed for three particles of the same batch (Figure 4) using 5 % (w/w) stearin at a spraying rate of 1 g/min. The layer thickness varies between approximately 2 µm to 30 µm. A mean coating thickness is found between 12 µm and 16 µm.

Coating uniformity of hot-melt coated particles Figure 2

Figure 3: Portion of a micro-computed-tomography image of a wax-coated particle showing.

Coating uniformity of hot-melt coated particles Figure 3

Figure 4: Relative frequency of the coating layer-thickness of three particle shells from the same batch using 5 % (w/w) stearin at a spraying rate of 1 g/min. Mean thicknesses: particle I (blue): 15.5 μm, particle II (red): 12.4 μm, and particle III (grey): 15.6 μm.

In terms of customer safety and of compliance aspects, not only statistical information about the layer thickness are of interest. In case of inhomogeneous layers, taste-masking functionalities or even uncontrolled dose dumping might occur. In this context, a single-particle analysis is mandatory. 3D µCT is a powerful tool, which is complementary to existing methods, such as laser imaging methods, 2D analysis or thickness estimations. The analyzed mean thickness deviates by approximately 13 % among these methods (Figure 5).

Coating uniformity of hot-melt coated particles Figure 4

Figure 5: Mean layer-thicknesses measured using different methods. Relative standard deviation: 13 %.

Summary

Microcrystalline cellulose pellets (Cellets®) are used to study coating uniformity. 3D μCT can be a powerful tool to assess the quality of the final product coating and facilitates the selection of an appropriate combination of core particles and coating material. 3D visualization methods allow a critical single-particle analysis with a resolution of up to 2 µm. Furthermore, the determination of the particle’s uncoated surface area can be specified.

Acknowledgement

Prof. Heiko Briesen, Mario Wörthmann (Technical University Munich) and team are gratefully acknowledged for serving content for this note.

Research was financially supported by the Ministry of Economics and Energy (BMWi) and FEI (Germany) via project AiF 19970 N. Equipment funded by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, Germany) 198187031.

References

[1] B.M. Woerthmann, J.A. Lindner, T. Kovacevic, P. Pergam, F. Schmid, H. Briesen, Powder Technology 378 (2021) 51–59