Weakly basic compounds propose biopharmaceutics risks due to the possibility of precipitation out of solution when passing from the stomach to the intestine. This behavior would limit the available drug for absorption and in turn reduces the plasma exposure at dose escalation scenarios in phase 1 clinical trials. In vitro precipitation studies along with computational models are often used to assess the risks of intestinal precipitation and provide insights about the parameters that should be controlled to minimize the risks of low absorption at high doses. In this work, both parameter sensitivity analysis and pH shift precipitation methods were used to guide the formulation approach and select excipients to reduce the risks associated with intestinal absorption of a weakly basic model compound. The simulations showed that absorption is sensitive to gastric pH and precipitation time which could be manipulated by formulation approaches. Other factors such as particle size and gastric residence time showed no impact. Precipitation studies using pH shift method were used to screen acidic excipients and polymers that will be added in a combination to boost supersaturation and retard precipitation. Hydroxy propyl methyl cellulose acetate succinate (HPMCAS) polymer middle grade was selected along with para-toluene sulfonic acid as the two excipients that would provide the highest supersaturation among the tested excipients. Merging both in vitro testing and computational models showed great merit in reducing time for selecting excipient for enabling formulation by focusing on the most influential formulation parameter for drug absorption.
By Fady Ibrahim