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Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2008 Mar 1;65(5):441-7. doi: 10.2146/ajhp070325.

Effect of buffer and antioxidant on stability of a mercaptopurine suspension.

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Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.



The stability of standard and modified mercaptopurine suspensions when stored at room temperature and under refrigerated conditions to test the feasibility of increasing shelf life was studied.


A 50-mg/mL mercaptopurine suspension was compounded by adding simple syrup, cherry syrup, and sterile water for irrigation to triturated mercaptopurine tablets for the initial reference formulation. Three additional formulations were prepared by adding an antioxidant (ascorbic acid 10 mg), a buffer (sodium phosphate monobasic monohydrate 500 mg), and a combination of antioxidant and buffer to the reference formulation. Each compounded batch was divided into two parts and stored in amber bottles at room temperature (19-23 degrees C) or under refrigerated conditions (4-8 degrees C). Analysis through high-performance liquid chromatography determined mercaptopurine levels after three and seven days and weekly thereafter for at least two weeks after shelf life was reached under specified storage conditions. Solutions with at least 93% of the original mercaptopurine concentration and with no observable sign of aggregation or cake formation were considered stable.


The reference suspension of mercaptopurine showed an acceptable physical and chemical stability of up to 5 weeks when stored at room temperature. The addition of ascorbic acid extended the shelf life of the compounded suspension to 11 weeks. However, the addition of sodium phosphate monobasic did not improve the stability of mercaptopurine in the suspension. The results showed a higher stability for all formulations after storage at room temperature compared with those stored in a refrigerator.


A standard oral suspension of mercaptopurine contained an acceptable drug concentration for up to 5 weeks when stored at room temperature. The addition of ascorbic acid at a concentration of 0.1% w/v to the standard formulation increased the suspension's shelf life at room temperature to 11 weeks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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