PharmTech.com has an in-depth report on alternate ways of producing inhalable drug particles, the preferred method of drug delivery to the lungs. For decades, the industry standard has been micronization, or the process of reducing the average diameter of a drug to a few micrometers in size. However, PharmTech.com reports, material is lost in the process of micronization, so "manufacturers have good reason to look for alternative processes for making inhalable medicines."
One method, developed by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is called Particle Replication in Nonwetting Templates (PRINT), and it's based on the computer industry's method of making transistors. "Using established technology, the researchers made etched silicon wafers to serve as templates for drug particles with previously determined characteristics," PharmTech.com says. "Using a template enables manufacturers to design the size and shape of their drug particles precisely, to target the upper airway or the alveolar sacs effectively, for example."
Another method is known as supercritical-fluid technology, and it's actually an old method that has been producing decaffeinated coffee for more than a century. Supercritical fluids combine the properties of liquids and gasses. They can effuse through solids like a gas, and dissolve materials like a liquid. They're often used as solvents in industrial and lab processes. It is a fast process that produces very small and uniformly sized particles. Levadex, an inhaled migraine therapy currently undergoing Phase III trials, is manufactured using a variation of supercritical-fluid technology.
FDA approval of Levadex might convince the pharmaceutical industry to look at alternate methods to micronization, PharmTech.com writes. "Yet many drugmakers might be reluctant to abandon micronization because they have years of experience with the process-and have invested considerable sums into the technology and training required."
- read the whole feature on PharmTech.com