Development of a NIR-based blend uniformity method for a drug product containing multiple structurally similar actives by using the quality by design principles

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The aim of this study is to develop an at-line near infrared (NIR) method for the rapid and simultaneous determination of four structurally similar active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in powder blends intended for the manufacturing of tablets. Two of the four APIs in the formula are present in relatively small amounts, one at 0.95% and the other at 0.57%. Such small amounts in addition to the similarity in structures add significant complexity to the blend uniformity analysis. The NIR method is developed using spectra from six laboratory-created calibration samples augmented by a small set of spectra from a large-scale blending sample. Applying the quality by design (QbD) principles, the calibration design included concentration variations of the four APIs and a main excipient, microcrystalline cellulose. A bench-top FT-NIR instrument was used to acquire the spectra. The obtained NIR spectra were analyzed by applying principal component analysis (PCA) before calibration model development. Score patterns from the PCA were analyzed to reveal relationship between latent variables and concentration variations of the APIs. In calibration model development, both PLS-1 and PLS-2 models were created and evaluated for their effectiveness in predicting API concentrations in the blending samples. The final NIR method shows satisfactory specificity and accuracy.

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