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Developing a new formulation of sodium phenylbutyrate
  1. Nathalie Guffon1,
  2. Yves Kibleur2,
  3. William Copalu3,
  4. C Tissen4,
  5. Joerg Breitkreutz4
  1. 1Hôpital Femme-Mère-Enfant, Centre de Référence des maladies héréditaires du métabolisme, Lyon, France
  2. 2Lucane Pharma, Paris, France
  3. 3Parexel International, London, UK
  4. 4Institute of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yves Kibleur, Lucane Pharma, 172 rue de Charonne, Paris, France; ykibleur{at}


Background Sodium phenylbutyrate (NaPB) is used as a treatment for urea cycle disorders (UCD). However, the available, licensed granule form has an extremely bad taste, which can compromise compliance and metabolic control.

Objectives A new, taste-masked, coated-granule formulation (Luc 01) under development was characterised for its in vitro taste characteristics, dissolution profiles and bioequivalence compared with the commercial product. Taste, safety and tolerability were also compared in healthy adult volunteers.

Results The in vitro taste profile of NaPB indicated a highly salty and bitter tasting molecule, but Luc 01 released NaPB only after a lag time of ∼10 s followed by a slow release over a few minutes. In contrast, the licensed granules released NaPB immediately. The pharmacokinetic study demonstrated the bioequivalence of a single 5 g dose of the two products in 13 healthy adult volunteers. No statistical difference was seen either for maximal plasma concentration (Cmax) or for area under the plasma concentration–time curve (AUC). CI for Cmax and AUC0–inf of NaPB were included in the bioequivalence range of 0.80–1.25. One withdrawal for vomiting and five reports of loss of taste perception (ageusia) were related to the licensed product. Acceptability, bitterness and saltiness assessed immediately after administration indicated a significant preference for Luc 01 (p<0.01), confirming the results of the taste prediction derived from in vitro measurements.

Conclusions In vitro dissolution, in vitro and in vivo taste profiles support the view that the newly developed granules can be swallowed before release of the bitter active substance, thus avoiding stimulation of taste receptors. Moreover, Luc 01 was shown to be bioequivalent to the licensed product. The availability of a taste-masked form should improve compliance which is critical to the efficacy of NaPB treatment in patients with UCD.

  • Therapeutics
  • Paediatric Practice
  • Metabolic

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