Characterization of the suspension stability of pharmaceuticals using a shadowgraphic imaging method

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A new shadowgraphic imaging method and an associated instrument for analyzing the physical stability of pharmaceutical suspensions are introduced in this paper. The new suspension tester consists mainly of a high-resolution camera that takes sequential shadowgraphic images of emulsions or suspensions and a 2D collimated LED for simultaneous whole-sample illumination in bright field. A built-in ultrasonic bath provides controlled initial agitation to the samples of interest. Sequential images acquired by the experimental setup were used to derive normalized transmission profiles from which an instability index was developed for quantitative stability comparison between samples. Instrument performance was verified by measuring the stability of a series of oil-in-water emulsions prepared with surfactant mixtures of different ratios. The new instrument correctly determined the required hydrophilic-lipophilic balance for sunflower oil to be 7.0. The stability of a pressurized suspension of spray dried lipid (DSPC) particles was monitored for 5days after propellant filling. Although stable for the first 24h, the lipid suspension was found to decrease in stability from day 1 to day 4. Morphological and spectroscopic analysis revealed that the suspended DSPC particles had reformed into large thin sheets of lipid, thereby causing the gradual stability decrease during the aging study. The effects of initial agitation on the stability of suspensions were demonstrated by agitating a suspension of micronized fluticasone propionate in propellant using a wrist action shaker and an ultrasonic bath respectively. A significant improvement of suspension stability was achieved by replacing the wrist action shaker method with ultrasonic agitation. Simultaneous illumination of the complete suspension, a high image acquisition rate, and controlled initial agitation are features that make this new suspension tester a suitable and more reliable instrument for investigating the stability of pressurized pharmaceutical suspensions.

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