The role of lecithin degradation on the pH dependent stability of halofantrine encapsulated fat nano-emulsions

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We report on the successful incorporation of the antimalarial drug, halofantrine, into laboratory based soybean oil emulsions which were designed to mimic the commercially available parenteral fat emulsion, Intralipid®. A high pH (minimum of pH 9, preferable pH of 11) was required for the drug laden emulsion to remain stable on storage and also to resist breaking under various stresses. Ageing of lecithin samples on storage was noted to result in degradation and a decrease in pH. We argue that this is the main reason for a similar decrease in pH for lecithin based emulsions and subsequent instability in drug laden emulsions. As expected, incorporation of the drug (halofantrine) resulted in lower stability. The (intensity weighted) particle size increased from 281 nm for the drug free emulsion to 550 nm following a loading of 1 g L−1 of halofantrine, indicative of a lowering in stability and this was reflected in a shorter shelf life. Interestingly, incorporation of even higher concentrations of drug then resulted in better stability albeit never as stable as the drug free emulsion. We also report on unusual and complex surface tension behaviour for fresh lecithin where multiple critical concentration points were observed.

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