Interfacial and material aspects of powders with relevance to pharmaceutical tableting performance
Abstract: Tablets are the most common forms of drug administration. They are convenient to administer and easy to manufacture. However, problems associated with the adhesion of the powders to the tableting tools are common. This phenomenon is known as sticking and even though it has been well documented and studied, it remains poorly understood. The many factors that contribute to good performance of the powders make the sticking problem difficult to solve.The goal of this study is to establish a relationship between the properties measured at the nanoscale to the overall tablet mechanical properties, tablet performance and powder pre-processing induced modifications. By using atomic force microscopy (AFM) we aim to develop an analytical method to characterize the mechanical and adhesive properties of the pharmaceutical powders at the nanoscale. Other methodologies such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), thermal analyses (DSC, TGA) and tablet strength test were also used. The materials used in this study are commonly used excipients, a sticky drug and magnesium stearate (MgSt). Two different approaches offered by AFM were employed: sharp tip imaging and colloidal probe force measurements. Nano-mechanical properties of the materials were evaluated with a sharp tip cantilever showing that higher adhesion correlates with higher tablet cohesion and that both are significantly affected by the presence of MgSt. AFM characterization of the particle surface mechanical properties at the nanoscale was also used to detect the crystallinity and amorphicity levels of the materials. New approaches to presenting such data considering the particle heterogeneity and to track the dynamics of surface recrystallization are revealed. Adhesive interactions between a steel sphere and sticky and non-sticky powders were performed with the colloidal probe technique. Sticky materials presented a higher adhesion against the steel surface, and reveal the mechanism of stickiness.This work thus contributes to the provision of predictability of the performance of formulations at an early stage of the development process.
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