Impact of the counterion on the solubility and physicochemical properties of salts of carboxylic acid drugs

S.E. David, P. Timmins, B.R. Conway*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Salt formation is a widely used approach to improve the physicochemical and solid state properties of an active pharmaceutical ingredient. In order to better understand the relationships between the active drug, the selected counterion and the resultant salt form, crystalline salts were formed using four different carboxylic acid drugs and a closely related series of amine counterions. Thirty-six related crystalline salts were prepared, characterized and the relationship between solubility and dissolution behaviour and other properties of the salt and the counterion studied. Methods: Salts of four model acid drugs, gemfibrozil, flurbiprofen, ibuprofen and etodolac were prepared using the counterions butylamine, hexylamine, octylamine, benzylamine, cyclohexylamine, tert-butylamine, 2-amino-2-methylpropan-1-ol, 2-amino-2-methylpropan-1,3-diol andtris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane. Salt formation was confirmed, the salts were characterized and their corresponding solubilities determined and rationalized with respect to the counterions' properties. Results and conclusion: The properties of the salt highly dependent on the nature of the counterion and, although there is considerable variation, some general conclusion can be drawn. For the alkyl amines series, increasing chain length leads to a reduction in solubility across all the acidic drugs studied and a reduction in melting point, thus contradicting simplistic relationships between solubility and melting point. Small, compact counterions consistently produce crystalline salts with high melting point accompanied with a modest improvement in solubility and the nature of hydrogen bonding between the ions has a major impact on the solubility.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-103
Number of pages11
JournalDrug Development and Industrial Pharmacy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • counterion
  • etodolac
  • flurbiprofen
  • gemfibrozil
  • ibuprofen
  • salt selection
  • solubility
  • tris(hydroxymethyl)aminomethane


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of the counterion on the solubility and physicochemical properties of salts of carboxylic acid drugs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this