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Pharmaceutics. 2018 Jul 31;10(3). pii: E108. doi: 10.3390/pharmaceutics10030108.

Engineering Cocrystals of PoorlyWater-Soluble Drugs to Enhance Dissolution in Aqueous Medium.

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Department of Biological Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, Palaj, Gujarat 382355, India.
Department of Chemical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar, Palaj, Gujarat 382355, India.


Biopharmaceutics Classification System (BCS) Class II and IV drugs suffer from poor aqueous solubility and hence low bioavailability. Most of these drugs are hydrophobic and cannot be developed into a pharmaceutical formulation due to their poor aqueous solubility. One of the ways to enhance the aqueous solubility of poorlywater-soluble drugs is to use the principles of crystal engineering to formulate cocrystals of these molecules with water-soluble molecules (which are generally called coformers). Many researchers have shown that the cocrystals significantly enhance the aqueous solubility of poorly water-soluble drugs. In this review, we present a consolidated account of reports available in the literature related to the cocrystallization of poorly water-soluble drugs. The current practice to formulate new drug cocrystals with enhanced solubility involves a lot of empiricism. Therefore, in this work, attempts have been made to understand a general framework involved in successful (and unsuccessful) cocrystallization events which can yield different solid forms such as cocrystals, cocrystal polymorphs, cocrystal hydrates/solvates, salts, coamorphous solids, eutectics and solid solutions. The rationale behind screening suitable coformers for cocrystallization has been explained based on the rules of five i.e., hydrogen bonding, halogen bonding (and in general non-covalent bonding), length of carbon chain, molecular recognition points and coformer aqueous solubility. Different techniques to screen coformers for effective cocrystallization and methods to synthesize cocrystals have been discussed. Recent advances in technologies for continuous and solvent-free production of cocrystals have also been discussed. Furthermore, mechanisms involved in solubilization of these solid forms and the parameters influencing dissolution and stability of specific solid forms have been discussed. Overall, this review provides a consolidated account of the rationale for design of cocrystals, past efforts, recent developments and future perspectives for cocrystallization research which will be extremely useful for researchers working in pharmaceutical formulation development.


cocrystals; coformers; crystal engineering; dissolution enhancement; eutectics; hydrogen bonding; polymorphism; poorly water-soluble

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