Use of terahertz-Raman spectroscopy to determine solubility of the crystalline active pharmaceutical ingredient in polymeric matrices during hot melt extrusion

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Polymer-based amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs) comprise one of the most promising formulation strategies devised to improve the oral bioavailability of poorly water-soluble drugs. Exploitation of such systems in marketed products has been limited because of poor understanding of physical stability. The internal disordered structure and increased free energy provide a thermodynamic driving force for phase separation and recrystallization, which can compromise therapeutic efficacy and limit product shelf life. A primary concern in the development of stable ASDs is the solubility of the drug in the polymeric carrier, but there is a scarcity of reliable analytical techniques for its determination. In this work, terahertz (THz) Raman spectroscopy was introduced as a novel empirical approach to determine the saturated solubility of crystalline active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) in polymeric matrices directly during hot melt extrusion. The solubility of a model compound, paracetamol, in two polymer systems, Affinisol 15LV (HPMC) and Plasdone S630 (copovidone), was determined by monitoring the API structural phase transitions from crystalline to amorphous as an excess of crystalline drug dissolved in the polymeric matrix. THz-Raman results enabled construction of solubility phase diagrams and highlighted significant differences in the solubilization capacity of the two polymer systems. The maximum stable API-load was 20 wt % for Affinisol 15LV and 40 wt % for Plasdone S630. Differential scanning calorimetry and XRPD studies corroborated these results. This approach has demonstrated a novel capability to provide real-time API-polymer phase equilibria data in a manufacturing relevant environment and promising potential to predict solid-state solubility and physical stability of ASDs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4361-4371
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number10
Early online date22 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2019


  • amorphous solid dispersion
  • API-polymer solubility
  • Terahertz-Raman spectroscopy
  • stability prediction

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