Drug supersaturation during formulation digestion, including real-time analytical approaches
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Self-emulsifying and other lipid-based drug delivery systems have drawn considerable interest from pharmaceutical scientists for managing oral delivery of poorly water-soluble compounds. Following administration, self-emulsifying systems exhibit complex aqueous dispersion and digestion in the gastro-intestinal tract. These processes generally result in drug supersaturation, which leads to enhanced absorption or the high drug concentrations may cause precipitation with erratic and variable oral bioavailability. This review briefly outlines drug supersaturation obtained from self-emulsifying and other lipid-based formulations; recent advancements of in vitro lipolysis testing are also discussed. Further, a main focus is mechanisms by which supersaturation is triggered from gastro-intestinal processes, as well as analytical techniques that are promising from a research and development perspective. Comparatively simple approaches are presented together with more sophisticated process analytics to enable direct examination of kinetic changes. The analytical methods together with their sensor probes are discussed in detail to clarify opportunities as well as technical limitations. Some of the more sophisticated methods, including those based on synchrotron radiation, are primarily research oriented despite interesting experimental findings from an industrial viewpoint. The availability of kinetic data further opens the door to mathematical modeling of supersaturation and precipitation versus permeation, which lays the groundwork for better in vitro to in vivo correlations as well as for physiologically-based modeling of lipid-based systems.