Background & Aim As part of the EU paediatric regulation, the paediatric use marketing authorisation (PUMA) was introduced, with an aim to stimulate research in existing compounds that are off-patent and/or to help transform known off-label use into authorised use.1 However, success has been limited, with only a few products gaining a PUMA, such as Sialanar 320 micrograms/mL glycopyrronium (equivalent to 400 micrograms/mL glycopyrronium bromide). A distinct challenge to overcome in this area is the development of more ‘age appropriate formulations’, particularly with an excipient composition and load that is suitable for paediatric patients. This project aims to establish an excipient screening platform, supplemented with analytical characterisation of materials, which will act as a decision making tool to accelerate and de-risk the production of age appropriate paediatric medicines.
Method To develop this excipient screening platform, a list of drugs that require an age appropriate formulation was produced using the ‘needs for paediatric medicines’ documents provided by the European medicines agency (EMA),2whilst common problematic excipients in paediatrics were identified using an EMA reflection paper.3 Literature and prescribing data were also reviewed to ensure drugs selected would benefit from an age appropriate formulation. Differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) to determine compatibility of selected drugs with widely used excipients was carried out using a TA DSCQ200 instrument (TA Instruments, New Castle, DE) with TA Instruments Universal Analysis 2000 software. Data was collected under nitrogen atmosphere (50 mL min−1) using pierced flat-bottomed TZero aluminium pans (sample mass about 2 mg) and heating rate of 10 °C min−1 in the range from 50 to 400°C. For samples containing both the drug and an excipient, 1 mg of each was measured out and gently mixed with a spatula for one minute.
Results The most common class of drugs identified as requiring age appropriate formulations were related to cardiovascular disorders and neurology, whilst the majority of drugs identified also exhibit poor aqueous solubilities. Some identified problematic excipients include ethanol, sodium benzoate and sorbitol; however, these excipients may still be used in paediatric formulations, as long as they are below certain concentrations (for example, ethanol concentration should not exceed 0.5% w/v for under 6 years old). Two drugs identified through the initial screening, carvedilol and nifedipine, were analysed by DSC, alone and then alongside starch from corn and starch 1500; the resulting DSC curves showed no changes in peak size, position (peak onset temperatures for nifedipine and carvedilol were observed at 173.2°C and 117.3°C, respectively) and shape, as well as no additional peaks, therefore suggesting compatibility between the tested samples.
Conclusion This first phase of the development of an excipient screening platform will continue to scan several different excipients with selected active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in order to create compatibility profiles. The excipient screening platform generated will accelerate and de-risk the production of age appropriate formulations, as it would allow screening for potential incompatibilities and acceptability, alongside informing formulation of appropriate oral paediatric dosage forms.
European Commission. State of Paediatric Medicines in the EU. 10 years of the EU Paediatric Regulation. COM (2017) 626. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/files/paediatrics/docs/2017_childrensmedicines_report_en.pdf
Needs for paediatric medicines - European Medicines Agency [Internet]. 2019 [cited 28 June 2019]. Available from: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/human-regulatory/research-development/paediatric-medicines/needs-paediatric-medicines
Reflection paper: formulations of choice for the paediatric population [Internet]. European Medicines Agency. 2019 [cited 28 June 2019]. Available from: https://www.ema.europa.eu/en/documents/scientific-guideline/reflection-paper-formulations-choice-paediatric-population_en.pdf
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