The importance of the molecular weight of ethyl cellulose on the properties of aqueous-based controlled release coatings

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Previous investigations of aqueous based ethyl cellulose (EC) latex dispersions have mainly focused on the commercially available viscosity grade 20 cps. In this study, dispersions of EC with varying viscosity grades (which correspond to molecular weights), ranging from 4 to 100 cps, were produced and characterised. The dispersions showed particle sizes around 200 nm and highly negative ζ-potentials (approx. −100 mV), which indicated stable dispersions as confirmed by sedimentation studies. The different latexes were used to produce free-standing film coatings. We hypothesised that the different viscosity grades of EC would result in different properties of the films. We found that an increase in viscosity grade (and higher molecular weight) resulted in lower coalescence between the particles during film formation and thus to higher water permeability than in film coatings of lower molecular weight. After exposure to water the EC 4 cps and 20 cps film coatings had a more porous structure in the side facing the air during production and drying after immersion in water. Molecular weight is therefore a factor that should be considered when producing pharmaceutical coatings for controlled release.

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