Evaluation and comparison of the physical properties and drug release characteristics of directly compressible lactose–based filler/binders / Bettie van der Walt Erasmus (Alta)
Erasmus, Bettie van der Walt
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Direct compression has gained significant interest since its advent in the late 1950's due to its potential ease compared to wet granulation. The primary prerequisites for powders used in direct compression are (i) good flow properties (ii) good compressibility and (iii) an acceptable dilution potential to accommodate a relative high percentage of active ingredient. Several filler/binders have been manufactured especially for direct compression and co–processing is one of the recent methods used to produce good compressible excipients with acceptable flow properties. In this study, lactose–based filler/binders were used which included simple and modified lactose materials (Granulac, Lactopress, Flowlac and Tablettose) as well as co–processed excipients (Starlac, Cellactose and Microcelac). A comprehensive literature study on direct compression revealed the importance of the physical properties of filler/binders such as interparticle forces, particle shape, particle size and distribution, powder density, particle surface structure and particle packing geometry which influence the flow of powders. All the materials were subjected to the various tests available to evaluate powder flow, namely (i) angle of repose (AoR), (ii) critical orifice diameter (COD), (iii) flow rate and percentage compressibility (%C) in terms of the powders' bulk and tap densities. The results of these tests confirmed the expected flow properties of the various filler/binders, with only one material exhibiting extremely poor flow properties. The following rank order in terms of all flow tests conducted was established; Starlac >> Microcelac ~ Flowlac >> Cellactose > Tablettose > Lactopress >>> Granulac. The co–processed filler/binders presented with superior flow compared to the other lactose–based materials. During the next phase of the study, the compaction properties of the various fillers were evaluated, employing direct compression. Compacts of pure filler were tabletted on an eccentric tablet press at different compression pressures (manipulated by the upper punch setting of the tablet press). The modified lactose filler/binders (Lactopress, Flowlac and Tablettose) exhibited unexpectedly poor compression profiles, where the co–processed filler/binders (Starlac, Cellactose and Microcelac) produced compacts with acceptable appearance and compact properties. Two lubricants (Mg–St or Pruv), which were tested separately in formulations were added since no compacts could be produced from the pure filler/binders. None of the modified lactose filler/binders, in combination with a lubricant, were able to produce an acceptable compact, since lamination occurred during compression. The co–processed filler/binders produced satisfactory compacts with the addition of a lubricant, but lactose–cellulose fillers (Cellactose and Microcelac) also required the inclusion of a disintegrant (Ac–Di–Sol) to induce satisfactory compact disintegration. Poor compressible active ingredients (paracetamol), which exhibit very poor flow properties, are usually difficult to use during direct compression. Many excipients (tested in this study) are formulated to accommodate these drugs and produce acceptable functional tablets. After identifying the best filler/binders (co–processed fillers), according to their flow and compressible properties, paracetamol was added to the formulations. During a pilot study, the percentage paracetamol these fillers could accommodate in a 400 mg tablet was determined. Both Microcelac and Cellactose could accommodate 24.5% w/w paracetamol, whilst Starlac could only accommodated 19.5% w/w. Paracetamol is well known for its tendency to cause tablet capping and lamination. An acceptable upper punch setting range (20–22) was chosen for tabletting, followed by quality control tests done. All three formulations produced suitable tablets for testing and exhibited good tablet properties. All tablets disintegrated within two minutes, with hardness profiles between 120 N and 148 N and friability percentages less than 1%. Dissolution studies, however, are probably the ultimate test to distinguish between the capability of filler/binders to release the optimum percentage drug after disintegration. Dissolution studies were done on all three formulations using the AUC (area under the curve) and IDR (initial drug release) as parameters to evaluate drug release. All tablets exhibited high initial dissolution rates (between 0.018 - 0.023 mg/min/ml) and 100% drug release was observed. Starlac presented with a lower amount of drug released compared to the other two, but can be explained by the lower percentage (19.5%) paracetamol present in the formulation. It was once again confirmed that the physical and compressible properties of potential directly compressible filler/binders play a major role in direct compression. It was concluded that co–processed filler/binders (Starlac, Microcelac and Cellactose) definitely exhibited better tabletting properties during direct compression. They were able to accommodate a certain percentage of paracetamol, although it was expected that they would accommodate a higher amount (at least 50% of total tablet weight).
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