Tackling the Trends – How Excipient Technologies Enable Oral Solid Innovation

Did you know that between 2015 and 2019, 70% to 80% of new molecular entities (NMEs) approved by the FDA were small molecules, and, in 2019, 68% of small molecules approved were oral dosage delivery? 

Although drug delivery innovations in other areas may receive more excitement and coverage, for new drugs to be commercially successful, it is key that they are easy to manufacture, cost-effective and patient-friendly. For this reason, oral solid remains the most popular dosage form and continues to make up the largest segment of the global pharmaceutical market.

This demand has fueled innovative customizations and trends, forcing R&D scientists to use innovative ways to meet the growing needs.

Two examples of how market trends are inspiring new approaches to oral solid dosage forms are patient centricity and lean manufacturing. As patients have become more empowered in healthcare, patient-centric approaches to development are quickly becoming paramount to ensuring product success. Meanwhile, manufacturing simplicity has long been coveted to decrease manufacturing time and cost. While these emerging trends and novel approaches will undoubtedly bring added benefits to the industry. It is also no surprise that meeting new trends can often add difficulty to scaling and commercializing products.

Which leaves us with an important question, how can R&D scientists and formulation teams meet industry trends without creating manufacturing complexity? Read on to learn more about these market trends and find out how new excipient technologies are providing a solution.

Top Trend #1 – Patient Centricity

With greater access to information and increased awareness about drug safety, patients are becoming more informed about drugs. Consequently, pharmaceutical R&D has shifted in recent years to place patients at the center of both development and manufacturing decisions. To ensure patients are at the forefront of R&D, regulatory bodies have also become more focused on patient experience. For example, the FDA’s creation of PFDD (Patient-Focused Drug Development) ensures that patients’ needs, experiences, perspectives and priorities are being met.

In order to successfully provide products that meet this trend, R&D scientists are using high-quality excipient technologies, like Carbopol® polymers, to enable technical innovation. Here, these polymers can impart patient-centric features to new drugs in several ways, ensuring medicine is more convenient for consumers.

Meeting the Need for Patient Centricity – What’s the Frequency?

One way to improve patient centricity is to reduce the dosing frequency. Frequent dosing is not only inconvenient for consumers, but human error can also lead to doses being taken at the wrong time, reducing effectiveness. Standard immediate-release (IR) dosage forms cannot maintain plasma concentrations over prolonged periods. Therefore, the patient is required to take multiple daily dosages, leading to an increased risk of unwanted side effects caused by these high-peak blood concentrations after administration.

When modifying release formulations during drug product development, it is crucial to control the release rate of the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API). Hence, extended-release dosage forms provide an exciting solution for enabling formulations with reduced dosing frequency to benefit patients. Proven excipients, such as Carbopol polymers, tend to be the best facilitator for improving extended-release dosage forms and enabling successful control of the release rate of APIs.

Carbopol polymers have long been trusted by R&D scientists and manufacturers, as they offer a wide range of benefits for formulators. For example, Carbopol offers better control over dosage release compared to competitive materials, ensuring a slower drug release than other materials. As an excipient, Carbopol is more efficient than cellulosic materials (such as hypromellose, also known as HPMC), allowing formulators to effectively control release even at low usage levels.

Using Carbopol polymers alongside other excipients also has formulation benefits. When used in combination with other excipients, Carbopol:

  • Lowers the total amount of excipient needed due to synergistic effects
  • Provides flexibility in delivering target release profiles by varying ratios
  • Lowers variability in the drug release profiles, particularly when using HPMC and Carbopol

Carbopol in Practice: Mucinex® Extended-Release Bi-Layer Tablets


Carbopol has been used commercially across the industry to successfully improve controlled release. For example, when used by the well-known cold and flu medicine Mucinex, Carbopol enabled the generation of a unique bi-layer tablet and utilized the synergistic effects to effectively extend release.

Controlling drug release from Mucinex was especially challenging, as the active pharmaceutical ingredient, guaifenesin, is water soluble. However, Carbopol enabled both high drug loading and good control over release rate, even with a water-soluble API. This functionality resulted in a differentiated product that has gone on to achieve continued commercial success, including several product line extensions using Carbopol.

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Source: Lubrizol, https://www.lubrizol.com/Health/Blog/2022/04/Tackling-the-Trends—How-Excipient-Technologies-Are-Supporting-Oral-Solid-Dosage-Innovation

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