Physical stability enhancement of theophylline via cocrystallization

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The crystal form adopted by the respiratory drug theophylline was modified using a crystal engineering strategy in order to search for a solid material with improved physical stability. Cocrystals, also referred to as crystalline molecular complexes, were prepared with theophylline and one of several dicarboxylic acids. Four cocrystals of theophylline are reported, one each with oxalic, malonic, maleic and glutaric acids. Crystal structures were obtained for each cocrystal material, allowing an examination of the hydrogen bonding and crystal packing features. The cocrystal design scheme was partly based upon a series of recently reported cocrystals of the molecular analogue, caffeine, and comparisons in packing features are drawn between the two cocrystal series. The theophylline cocrystals were subjected to relative humidity challenges in order to assess their stability in relation to crystalline theophylline anhydrate and the equivalent caffeine cocrystals. None of the cocrystals in this study converted into a hydrated cocrystal upon storage at high relative humidity. Furthermore, the theophylline:oxalic acid cocrystal demonstrated superior humidity stability to theophylline anhydrate under the conditions examined, while the other cocrystals appeared to offer comparable stability to that of theophylline anhydrate. The results demonstrate the feasibility of pharmaceutical cocrystal design based upon the crystallization preferences of a molecular analogue, and furthermore show that avoidance of hydrate formation and improvement in physical stability is possible via pharmaceutical cocrystallization.

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