Lipid-based formulations are a viable option to address modern drug delivery challenges such as increasing the oral bioavailability of poorly water-soluble active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), or sustaining the drug release of molecules intended for chronic diseases. Esters of fatty acids and glycerol (glycerides) and polyethylene-glycols (polyoxylglycerides) are two main classes of lipid-based excipients used by oral, dermal, rectal, vaginal or parenteral routes. These lipid-based materials are more and more commonly used in pharmaceutical drug products but there is still a lack of understanding of how the manufacturing processes, processing aids, or additives can impact the chemical stability of APIs within the drug product.
In that regard, this review summarizes the key parameters to look at when formulating with lipid-based excipients in order to anticipate a possible impact on drug stability or variation of excipient functionality. The introduction presents the chemistry of natural lipids, fatty acids and their properties in relation to the extraction and refinement processes. Then, the key parameters during the manufacturing process influencing the quality of lipid-based excipients are provided. Finally, their critical characteristics are discussed in relation with their intended functionality and ability to interact with APIs and others excipients within the formulation.