Wurster fluidised bed coating of microparticles: Towards scalable production of oral sustained-release liquid medicines for patients with swallowing difficulties
Suspension of microparticles in an easy-to-swallow liquid is one approach to develop sustained-release formulations for children and patients with swallowing difficulties. However, to date production of sustained-release microparticles at the industrial scale has proven to be challenging. The aim of this investigation was to develop an innovative concept in coating sustained-release microparticles using industrial scalable Wurster fluidised bed to produce oral liquid suspensions. Microcrystalline cellulose cores (particle size < 150 µm) were coated with Eudragit® NM 30 D and Eudragit® RS/RL 30 D aqueous dispersions using a fluidised bed coater. A novel approach of periodic addition of a small quantity (0.1% w/w) of dry powder glidant, magnesium stearate, to the coating chamber via an external port was applied throughout the coating process. This method significantly increased coating production yield from less than 50% to up to 99% compared to conventional coating process without the dry powder glidant. Powder rheology tests showed that dry powder glidants increased the tapped density and decreased the cohesive index of coated microparticles. Reproducible microencapsulation of a highly water-soluble drug, metoprolol succinate, was achieved, yielding coated microparticles less than 200 µm in size with 20-hour sustained drug release, suitable for use in liquid suspensions. The robust, scalable technology presented in this study offers an important solution to the long-standing challenges of formulating sustained-release dosage forms suitable for children and older people with swallowing difficulties.