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J Microencapsul. 2007 Feb;24(1):57-71.

Physicochemical properties of film-coated melt-extruded pellets.

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Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 130 Waverly Street, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the physicochemical properties of poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) and guaifenesin containing beads prepared by a melt-extrusion process and film-coated with a methacrylic acid copolymer. Solubility parameter calculations, thermal gravimetric analysis (TGA), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), modulated differential scanning calorimetry (MDSC), X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) and high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) were used to determine drug/polymer miscibility and/or the thermal processibility of the systems. Powder blends of guaifenesin, PEO and functional excipients were processed using a melt-extrusion and spheronization technique and then film-coated in a fluidized bed apparatus. Solubility parameter calculations were used to predict miscibility between PEO and guaifenesin, and miscibility was confirmed by SEM and observation of a single melting point for extruded drug/polymer blends during MDSC investigations. The drug was stable following melt-extrusion as determined by TGA and HPLC; however, drug release rate from pellets decreased upon storage in sealed HDPE containers with silica desiccants at 40 degrees C/75% RH. The weight loss on drying, porosity and tortuosity determinations were not influenced by storage. Recrystallization of guaifenesin and PEO was confirmed by SEM and XRPD. Additionally, the pellets exhibited a change in adhesion behaviour during dissolution testing. The addition of ethylcellulose to the extruded powder blend decreased and stabilized the drug release rate from the thermally processed pellets. The current study also demonstrated film-coating to be an efficient process for providing melt-extruded beads with pH-dependent drug release properties that were stable upon storage at accelerated conditions.

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