Void forming index: A new parameter for detecting microstructural transformation caused by powder agglomeration

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As powder agglomeration during storage causes a decrease in the performance of dry powder inhalers (DPIs), it is important to understand the properties of powder agglomeration in developing DPIs. Generally, powder agglomeration is caused by capillary force and crystalline transformation in conditions of higher humidity. It is, however, difficult to correlate crystalline transformation and powder agglomeration, especially when the crystalline transformation is limited. In this study, we focused on the application of inverse gas chromatography (iGC) to detect powder agglomeration directly. There was a slight change between the powder state and lactose agglomerates using powder X-ray diffraction, and dynamic vapor sorption. On the other hand, a change in pressure drop was found during measurement of lactose using iGC. After measurement by iGC, powdered lactose agglomerated. This finding suggests that a pressure drop is related to powder agglomeration and can be employed to detect the onset of powder agglomeration. Based on these findings, we propose a novel index—the Void Forming Index (VFI)—which is related to the pressure drop with iGC. The VFI is a useful index in the evaluation of powder agglomeration, and will be especially useful during DPI development.

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