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Pharm Dev Technol. 1999 Jan;4(1):35-43.

Development of a topically active imiquimod formulation.

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3M Pharmaceuticals, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.


The purpose of this work was to develop a topical formulation of imiquimod, a novel immune response modifier, to induce local cytokine production for the treatment of external genital and perianal warts. A pH-solubility profile and titration data were used to calculate a pKa of 7.3, indicative of a weak base. Solubility experiments were conducted to identify a solvent that dissolves imiquimod to achieve a 5% formulation concentration. Studies to select surfactants, preservatives, and viscosity-enhancing excipients to formulate an oil-in-water cream indicated that fatty acids were the preferred solvent for topical imiquimod formulations, and isostearic acid (ISA) was selected. A relationship existed between the fatty acid composition of four commercially available ISA sources and the solubility of imiquimod. A combination of polysorbate 60, sorbitan monostearate, and xanthan gum was used to produce a physically stable cream. The preservative system included parabens and benzyl alcohol to meet the USP criteria for preservative activity. An in vitro method was developed to demonstrate that imiquimod was released from the formulation. Topical application of the formulation induced local cytokine activity in mice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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