Development of modified release 3D printed tablets (printlets) with pharmaceutical excipients using additive manufacturing

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The aim of this study was to manufacture 3D printed tablets (printlets) from enteric polymers by single filament fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printing (3DP). Hot melt extrusion was used to generate paracetamol-loaded filaments from three different grades of the pharmaceutical excipient hypromellose acetate succinate (HPMCAS), grades LG, MG and HG. One-step 3DP was used to process these filaments into enteric printlets incorporating up to 50% drug loading with two different infill percentages (20 and 100%). X-ray Micro Computed Tomography (Micro-CT) analysis revealed that printlets with 20% infill had cavities in the core compared to 100% infill, and that the density of the 50% drug loading printlets was higher than the equivalent formulations loaded with 5% drug. In biorelevant bicarbonate dissolution media, drug release from the printlets was dependent on the polymer composition, drug loading and the internal structure of the formulations. All HPMCAS-based printlets showed delayed drug release properties, and in the intestinal conditions, drug release was faster from the printlets prepared with polymers with a lower pH-threshold: HPMCAS LG > HPMCAS MG > HPMCAS HG. These results confirm that FDM 3D printing makes it possible not only to manufacture delayed release printlets without the need for an outer enteric coating, but it is also feasible to adapt the release profile in response to the personal characteristics of the patient, realizing the full potential of additive manufacturing in the development of personalised dose medicines.

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