Strategic development and physicochemical analysis of oral preparations for unstable drugs

  • Anjumn Shabir

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Oral liquid formulations are ideal dosage forms for paediatric, geriatric and patient with dysphagia. Dysphagia is prominent among patients suffering from stroke, motor neurone disease, advanced Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. However oral liquid preparations are particularly difficult to formulate for hydrophobic and unstable drugs. Therefore current methods employed in solving this issue include the use of ‘specials’ or extemporaneous preparations. In order to challenge this, the government has encouraged research into the field of oral liquid formulations, with the EMEA and MHRA publishing list of drugs of interest.
The current work investigates strategic formulation development and characterisation of select API’s (captopril, gliclazide, melatonin, L-arginine and lansoprazole), each with unique obstacles to overcome during solubilisation, stabilisation and when developing a palatable dosage from. By preparing a validated calibration protocol for each of the drug candidates, the oral liquid formulations were assessed for stability, according to the ICH guidelines along with thorough physiochemical characterisation.
The results showed that pH and polarity of the solvent had the greatest influence on the extent of drug solubilisation, with inclusion of antioxidants and molecular steric hindrance influencing the extent of drug stability.
Captopril, a hydrophilic ACE inhibitor (160 mg.mL-1), undergoes dimerisation with another captopril molecule. It was found that with the addition of EDTA and HP-β-CD, the drug molecule was stabilised and prevented from initiating a thiol induced first order free radical oxidation. The cyclodextrin provided further steric hindrance (1:1 molar ratio) resulting in complete reduction of the intensity of sulphur like smell associated with captopril. Palatability is a crucial factor in patient compliance, particularly when developing a dosage form targeted towards paediatrics. L-arginine is extremely bitter in solution (148.7 g.L-1). The addition of tartaric acid into the 100 mg.mL-1 formulation was sufficient to mask the bitterness associated with its guanidium ions.
The hydrophobicity of gliclazide (55 mg.L-1) was strategically challenged using a binary system of a co-solvent and surfactant to reduce the polarity of the medium and ultimately increase the solubility of the drug. A second simpler method was developed using pH modification with L-arginine.
Melatonin has two major obstacles in formulation: solubility (100 μg.mL-1) and photosensitivity, which were both overcome by lowering the dielectric constant of the medium and by reversibly binding the drug within the cyclodextrin cup (1:1 ratio). The cyclodextrin acts by preventing UV rays from reaching the drug molecule and initiated the degradation pathway.
Lansoprazole is an acid labile drug that could only be delivered orally via a delivery vehicle. In oral liquid preparations this involved nanoparticulate vesicles. The extent of drug loading was found to be influenced by the type of polymer, concentration of polymer, and the molecular weight.
All of the formulations achieved relatively long shelf-lives with good preservative efficacy.
Date of Award18 Jun 2012
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAfzal-Ur-Rahman Mohammed (Supervisor) & Yvonne Perrie (Supervisor)


  • HP-β-CD
  • paediatrics
  • nanoparticles
  • PET

Cite this